Nurses in Namibia reported that at least half the women and children admitted to hospitals and clinics could be victims of domestic abuse. Medical anthropologist Debie LeBeau at the Sociology department of the University of Namibia interviewed the nurses, who are the first to see abused patients and can sense which are victims of domestic violence.
The study will be expanded in a two-year project sponsored in part by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has classified domestic violence as a “public health issue.” Namibians will participate in group discussions, questionnaires, and community interviews as a means by which the WHO can gather empirical evidence on the plight of domestic abuse. Victims of violence who contribute to the study will receive counseling from Unam’s Social Work department.
The project will examine the physical and psychological health of abused women and children, as well as the economic cost to society in terms of medical and legal assistance. The WHO is employing this strategy because it believes economic arguments will be more effective than social ones.