By Dr. Mo Bhandar, special to the News
November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month — a time for all of us to reflect and look at the progress we are making to eliminate gender-based violence from our community and to also remember those who are affected.
A number of years ago, I was asked a question by a violence against women expert regarding an injury and unique fracture a woman had. I was asked if it was abuse. This interaction changed me forever. It started me on a journey to study how orthopedic doctors were trained and responded to the issue of intimate partner violence.
I and a few colleagues found proper training and response was lacking. In fact, surgeons were trained to look at the injury and not all the surrounding issues.
Our research further found this issue is a larger concern for clinicians than was thought. This furthered my resolve to engage colleagues and our professional association to make some changes. I am pleased at the results.
The Canadian Association of Orthopedic Surgeons adopted a statement to included asking about abuse and ensuring supports are offered to victims. The association has now gone further by including questions on the final examine specific to woman abuse.
This change was slow and not without its challenges; however, its impact is making changes. This journey highlighted for me the importance leaders in all areas play in making changes towards the elimination of gender-based violence.
Last December, our small group of male leaders called Mentoraction met with over 70 male leaders in our community at an event where our key speaker Mike “Pinball” Clemons challenged male leaders in this community to leave the sidelines of silence and stand up and speak out because things will not change without men taking a more active role with men.
Our group was inspired by Pinball’s challenge and in June revealed the results from our community-wide survey on violence and community safety.
Here are what the survey of 433 males, females and trans from our community said:
• 95 per cent said male leaders in our community need to be involved
• 97 per cent said living in a home without violence builds safe communities
• 87 per cent said male violence against women is an issue in Hamilton
• women reported more sexual, domestic and harassment violence than did men.
We are calling everyone from our community to attend our event on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10-11:30 a.m. in the council chambers at City Hall to learn what can be done and to engage in the “Stand up and speak out to end gender based violence initiative.”
Dr. Mo Bhandari is an orthopedic surgeon, surgery professor and academic division head of orthopedic surgery at McMaster University.
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