CAIRO—Outside a room at Cairo University’s Kasr Al-Ainy Teaching Hospital, S.S., a woman in her 40s, sat at the door to the “Safe Women’s Unit,” waiting for her turn to enter for a second visit to follow up on her recovery from the effects of repeated physical and sexual violence inflicted on her by her husband.
S.S. learned about the Safe Women’s Unit from a nurse friend who works at the hospital. Her friend advised her to visit the clinic to help her recover from the physical and psychological effects of the violence she had suffered.
During her first visit, she underwent ultrasound and X-ray examinations to detect physical injuries from the violence, before she sat with a female obstetrician and gynecologist and a female psychiatrist to talk freely about her problem.
“I felt a great change in my psyche and an improvement in my physical health after my first visit,” she said. “It is enough that I got rid of the fear that overwhelmed me greatly.”
Urgently-Needed Support for Women
Cairo University’s Safe Women’s Unit was established late last year as part of a joint initiative involving a number of universities, the United Nations Population Fund in Egypt, and Egypt’s National Council for Women, an independent governmental institution. Besides Cairo University, the initiative also established specialized medical response clinics at Ain Shams, Mansoura, and Assiut public universities for dealing with cases of violence against women.
“We designed a medical protocol to manage victims of violence visiting the clinic, and to address the physical, medical and psychological consequences of gender-based violence,” said Ehab Soliman, a professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Kasr al-Ainy Hospital.
According to Ehab Soliman, the Safe Women’s Unit at Cairo University has received dozens of women from various social backgrounds every day since its opening. This can be considered an indicator of a surge in the rate of various forms of violence against women, he said, and of women’s growing acceptance of the idea of going to a doctor to help them recover from the effects of domestic violence.