Enhancing Survivor-Centred Healthcare Response for Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence in Afghanistan (ASP)

March 19, 2021
Sexual Violence in ConflictAll Survivors Project

Women and girls in Afghanistan are extremely vulnerable to gender-based violence (GBV) and face substantialbarriers accessing healthcare facilities to seek help after such violence.

This is widely known. Much less is known about sexual violence committed against men and boys, the barriers male victims/survivors faceaccessing healthcare facilities, or the quality of healthcare provision available to them.This report presents the findings of research conducted by international non-governmental organisationAll Survivors Project (ASP) with its partner on the ground in Afghanistan, Youth Health and DevelopmentOrganization (YHDO).

With this research, ASP and YHDO seek to:

1. Cast light on the healthcare needs and experiences of male victims/survivors of sexual violence inAfghanistan and the barriers they face accessing quality healthcare services.

2. Understand the practices of healthcare providers, and the barriers they face, in supporting malevictims/survivors of sexual violence.

3. Learn about how a survivor-centred approach to healthcare provision is applied in Afghanistan inthe case of male victims/survivors.

4. Produce a set of recommendations for enhanced survivor-centred healthcare services for male victims/survivors of sexual violence that can be used to develop a tool for the health sector.

The research was conducted in three provinces of Afghanistan: Kabul, Balkh and Kandahar, with data collectionconducted during the second half of 2020, under special measures adopted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.The research adopted a qualitative approach involving four key methods:

1. A desk review, including literature on sexual violence against men and boys and the health sectorresponse, with a focus on evidence from Afghanistan.

2. A stakeholder mapping to identify existing systems of healthcare response that include coverage ofmale victims/survivors, conducted predominantly through a desk review of online documents.

3. Ten key stakeholder interviews were conducted with a range of individuals, from government, nationaland international NGOs, and UN agencies.

4. Ninety-seven in-depth interviews were conducted – 27 with male victims/survivors of sexual violence,44 with healthcare providers working in different types of static health care facilities, and 26 withcommunity health workers.The results of the ASP/YHDO study suggest that the health sector is currently a vastly underused entry point for male victims/survivors of sexual violence in Afghanistan, due to multiple and cumulative barriers preventing them from accessing healthcare services.

Before elaborating on these barriers, the report outlines the structure of Afghanistan’s healthcare system under which services operate at three main levels: community, district, and provincial/regional. There is an upward referral system under which more complex cases are referred to higher levels where there are larger numbers of healthcare staff, services and resources. In addition to the different types of static and mobile health services overseen by the Ministry of Public Health, some health facilities are run privately.

A range of services has been developed specifically to address the health care needs of victims/survivors of GBV, although these are largely directed towards women and girls. Thirty-seven Family Protection Centres (FPCs) have been established in 26 provinces and form part of a wider multi-sector response to GBV programme that provides health, police and justice services for victims/survivors, with FPCs providing the primary entry point. FPCs are located in government provincial and regional hospitals to ensure their sustainability within the national health system, and provide support to victims/survivors, including basic health services, medical support, psychosocial counselling, legal support, help in collecting evidence and providing referrals to other services. FPCs may not be accessible for all victims/survivors, particularly those who live in more remote locations. Consequently, some NGOs working in humanitarian response now send mobile outreach teams to visit communities and provide GBV services and referrals.

Several resources have been developed by a range of organisations to facilitate higher quality of healthcare provision for victims/survivors of GBV, although, much like GBV services, these resources are largely directed towards women and girls. These include a training manual for health professionals on a trauma sensitive approach to care for victims/survivors of GBV in Afghanistan; Standard Operating Procedures for Healthcare Sector Response to GBV; and the GBV Treatment Protocol for Healthcare Providers in Afghanistan(GBV Treatment Protocol).

The GBV Treatment Protocol contains comprehensive information and guidance on a range of topics, including legal frameworks and requirements, patient flow, confidentiality, documentation and reporting, survivor-centred care, identifying and responding to patient disclosures of GBV, and different types of care for victims/survivors. The Protocol is intended to provide guidance on healthcare response to all GBV victims/survivors; however, although it notes that men and boys, particularly adolescent boys, can experience sexual exploitation and violence, the Protocol emphasizes that women and girls are disproportionately affected byGBV and the Protocol is largely targeted towards them.The barriers preventing male survivors/victims of sexual violence accessing quality healthcare services are detailed in the ASP/YHDO report and are outlined in Table 1 below. Adopting a social ecological model of public health, the barriers are differentiated by level, of which there are five: individual, interpersonal, community, organisational, and structural. These barriers do not operate in isolation and male victims/survivors face multiple, mutually reinforcing barriers, making access to healthcare services extremely challenging...

Read more at: https://allsurvivorsproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Enhancing-Survivor-Centred-Healthcare-Response-for-Male-Victims-Survivors-of-Sexual-Violence-in-Afghanistan.pdf

All Survivors ProjectAll Survivors Project

All Survivors Project (ASP) was founded in December 2016 as an independent research project that was jointly hosted by the Williams Institute and the Health and Human Rights Law Project, UCLA School of Law. In December 2017, ASP registered as an independent charitable foundation in Liechtenstein and with the Charities Commission in England and Wales in 2020. ASP continues to maintain a strong intellectual partnership with UCLA School of Law and conducts its research following UCLA Institutional Review Board approvals.

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