Interview Monica Ekström, County Commissioner in Värmaland (S)

Monica Ekström is the County Commissioner in Värmaland, a leader region of the program Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence – a Public Health Approach.

Nicolas Schirrer : What are nowadays, in the 21st Century, the mechanisms of domestic violence?

Monica Ekström : Freedom of violence is a human right… The patriarchal view on women and the norm that men have the right to possess, control and exert power against women are the basis of mens’ violence against their female partners. This structural violence is totally unacceptable! It must be stopped and we, the politicians at regional level must take responsibility as well as actions.

The consequences of abuse are profound, extending beyond the health and happiness of individuals to affect the well-being of entire communities. Living in a violent relationship affects a woman’s self esteem and her ability to participate in the world. Studies has shown that abused women are routinely restricted in the way they can gain access to information and service, take part in public life, receive emotional support from friends and relatives. Not surprisingly, such women are often unable properly to look after themselves and their children or to pursue jobs and careers. Sharing life with an abusive partner can have a profound impact on a woman’s health, physical health consequences as well as sexual and reproductive consequences, psychological and behavioural impact and also fatal health consequences are seen.

N.S.: In addition to education and communication, what is it important to do in order to improve the faith of victims, in resort and caring for example ?

M.E.: Actions for prevention of domestic violence should take place at all levels, a multi sectoral approach is absolutely necessary. A Plan for Action concerning Domestic Violence and the implication of health has been adopted by the County Council in Värmland. We must seize the possibility to use the EU funded programme “Daphne” to cooperate on this issue. But I would like to put focus on the impact on children as children are often present during domestic altercations. While witnessing (or listening or sensing) daddy hitting mummy, the biological pattern of a child’s connection to the care giving comforting parent gets disturbed. The children are at risk for developing various kinds of mental disorders when they grow.

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