QUICK ESCAPE FROM SITE

Physical and mental services

  • States have a duty to provide for the safety and security of those within their territory. Violence against women is a crime and many nations provide compensation to victims to assist them to cover the expenses that they incur as a result of the criminal behavior. These schemes require, however, that crimes are reported to the police in a timely fashion. Medical and psychological services are virtually always a part of these compensation schemes. The United States Office for Victims of Crime maintains a Directory of International Crime Victim Compensation Programs.
  • While government compensation programs are an important component of legislation, many victims of crimes of violence against women do not report the crime to the police and are thus ineligible for official programs. Legislation should therefore also include programs to provide funding for NGOs, public health agencies, or medical facilities that provide medical care and psycho-social counseling services to victims.

CASE STUDY – Estonia

An extensive victim support regime exists in Estonia and is administered by the Social Insurance Board. The program was established by the Victim Support Act, which states in Article 1 that the act “provides the bases for state organisation of victim support, organization of conciliation service, compensation of the cost of the psychological care paid within the framework of provision of victim support services, and the procedure for payment of state compensation to victims of crime.” The support scheme assists victims of violent crime and non-violent crime, in some circumstances. The program also covers specified family members of the victim. Under the act, psychological care includes counseling (up to ten sessions), psychotherapy (up to 15 sessions), and support groups. Medical care includes “essential expenses related to the medical treatment of the victim and acquisition of medicinal products and appliances substituting for bodily functions, alleviation of post-traumatic complications, teaching him or her a new speciality [sic] suitable for his or her state of health, and essential travel expenses related to the circumstances specified above.” Victims must report the crime to the police in order to be eligible for services, but the act applies to nationals and aliens alike who are residing in Estonia. See: Victim Support Act (2003), ch. 3, sec. 12; Estonia, Directory of International Crime Victim Compensation Programs.

PROMISING PRACTICE – Sexual Assault Centers

Sexual assault centers play a unique role in providing very specialized health and psychological services to victims as well as in preserving critical forensic evidence. The US-based National Sexual Violence Resource Center maintains information about best practices in developing sexual assault response teams  as well as technical bulletins for practitioners in sexual assault centers. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) maintains a listing of sexual assault centers worldwide.

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