Midwives at Tameside Hospital and other professionals across Tameside helped raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic abuse during the annual 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence.
On Monday, November 26, a balloon launch took place outside Tameside Hospital’s Maternity Unit, which was attended by staff of the hospital, staff and service users of a refuge and representatives of Greater Manchester Police’s domestic abuse division, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, the Sanctuary Project and IDAS.
Pink and white balloons were released to represent the one-in-four women who will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and figures show two women a week will be killed by a perpetrator of domestic abuse. Many women wrote symbolic messages on their balloons.
Rebecca Beggan, Specialist Midwife With Vulnerable Families and Named Midwife for Safeguarding at Tameside Hospital, said: “We know pregnancy is a vulnerable time where domestic abuse can start or escalate. The physical effects on women experiencing domestic abuse in pregnancy include higher rates of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight babies. Domestic abuse impacts on the victims’ mental health, including higher rates of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.
“Domestic abuse also impacts on a child’s health and we know that children can be physically and psychologically affected by domestic abuse.
“Anybody can experience domestic abuse, but research by the Department of Health suggests that the most severe and chronic is perpetrated by men against women and children”
Rebecca added: “If anybody is experiencing domestic abuse or is aware of family or friends in this situation, there is no need to suffer in silence. There are professionals across Tameside and within Tameside Hospital that are here to help.”
Beverley Tabernacle, Deputy Director of Nursing at Tameside Hospital, said: “This was a good opportunity to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. It is also good to reflect on Tameside Hospital’s policies and make sure we have got the right procedures in place to identify and respond to those at risk of and who have experienced violence in families.”
The 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence campaign runs from November 25 to December 10. It is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
Participants chose the dates November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasise that such violence is a human rights violation. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including White Ribbon Day on November 26, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on November 29, World AIDS Day on December 1 and the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre December 6.