Hospital staff: abused women to blame

A third of the staff members working in the largest hospital accident and emergency department in Sweden believe women are to blame if they are physically abused by their partners.

The study, which questioned 217 medical personnel working at Stockholm South General Hospital (Södersjukhuset), also revealed that one-in-ten do not believe it is their responsibility to enquire about how a woman came by her injuries.

Between 15 and 20 Swedish women are killed by their partners every year, with around half of those having previously sought medical attention for injuries sustained through abuse. According to Sveriges Radio (SR), the country’s casualty departments are often the only point of contact between the women and the system.

“The study shows that we still have a lot of work to do in terms of people’s attitudes,” Maaret Castrén, a professor in emergency medicine working with clinical research and training at the hospital, told SR.

“I was somewhat surprised that it’s still considered not to be our job to investigate the cause of women’s injuries and that people still think that women’s behaviour in some way gives a man the right to hit them,” Castrén said, adding that she believes more emphasis should be placed on the issue during basic medical education and on-the-job training.

Head of the Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women (Nationellt centrum för kvinnofrid – NCK) at Uppsala University, Professor Gun Heimer, said the findings of the survey are in line with other international research. “What’s important with the study is that the results are highlighted and we can see that this is how things are and now we have to be better,” she told SR.