Social work

experience and methods

Power relations between victims of women trafficking and physicians: the role of a social worker

Review

Power relations between victims of women trafficking and physicians: the role of a social worker The objects of the research are power relations between victims of trafficking and physicians, and the importance of the role of a social worker in these relations. Even though sexual, physical and psychological problems of victims’ health are defined as one of the most distressing consequences of women trafficking, the question of medical care of these women has been still little studied. Limited attitude towards health care, the fear of physical and psychological violence in a physician room and complicated accessibility of health care raise the importance of a social worker. Thus the research is aimed at defining the roles of a social worker in the process of health care of victims of women trafficking.
The qualitative method has been applied in this research. Two physicians, two clients of the project of Lithuanian Caritas program “Aid to the victims of trafficking and prostitution” and the social worker of this project have been questioned by a semi – structured interview. The data analysis has been made according to fenomenographic and content analysis data approaches.
The results of the research indicate that the process of victims of women trafficking health care is impossible without a direct participation of a social worker. According to the strategy of empowering as well as the participants of the research, despite traditional roles of a social worker as broker and advocate, the supporting role of a social worker has been noticed.
The research has been also aimed at exploring the relations between physicians and women who were trafficked. Even though a consultative physician – patient relation model predominates, the interviews have revealed that the physicians have all the power. This is determined by their professional knowledge, experience, power in decision making, and the social status of a
physician.
As the results of the analysis show, informal collaboration between aid programs and medical institutions raises a lot of misunderstandings. The interviewees emphasized not only the lack of collaboration, but the tendency to control. According to the participants of the research, the collaboration should be improved by changing the attitude of physicians towards victims of women trafficking, also by making changes in health care policy carried out by the government.
According to the results of the research conclusions have been made and recommendations for the aid programs, physicians and social policy formers have been given.

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