Coordinator of the SOS service of the Organization …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA, Ivana Zelic, gave a speech at the online conference Towards the Society without Sexual Harassment – current condition and solutions, held at 9 A.M on September 3rd, 2021 via ZOOM.
The conference is one of the programs this year’s Festival of Mental Health. It is organized jointly by the Institute for Public Health, Psychology Society of Serbia Branch Office Juzna Backa, and the ombudsman of Vojvodina.
It is intended for the professionals working in social and health protection, education and media and other participants relevant for the preservation and promotion of mental health.
In the session Programs, projects – towards the change, Ivana Zelic talked about an improvement of sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities, sexual education and informing, an image about a body and self-esteem, safe sex, birth control, violence against women with disabilities and their experiences.
She stressed the numerous obstacles women with disabilities face: unavailability of health services caused by inappropriate architectural solutions or inadequate medical equipment (lack of hydraulic gynecological examining tables, insufficient instruments). An additional problem is the medical training of health workers that are not specialized for women with disabilities (social distance, communication barriers, not being familiar with disability etiquette and using offensive language).
– We need to work on the education of young girls and women with disabilities about their sexuality, contraception, safe intercourse and prevention of violence. Furthermore, we need to strengthen the potentials of the teachers, educators, medical and other professionals working with women with disabilities. It is material to provide inclusive and accessible support services that protect women with disabilities from violence. To do that, we need to eliminate communication, information and architectural obstacles and overcome the stereotypes and prejudice about sexual violence against women with disabilities – says Ivana Zelic.
Twenty academic workers and experts from various areas talked about psychological aspects and consequences of sexual abuse, social factors that might cause violence, the understanding and treatment, the role institutions and media play.
The conference aimed to inform the professional public about the phenomenon of sexual abuse. It encouraged mental health professionals to think deeper in order to find solutions and to prevent sexual violence.