Ghada Hatem, the one who repairs women victims of violence

Ghada Hatem is on all fronts. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Thursday, November 25, the one who founded the Maison des femmes in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), in 2016, continues its fight to better support victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence. Since its opening, the Maison des femmes has received nearly 20,000 of them for consultation, whether they are beaten, excised, faced with unwanted pregnancies …

It is the first structure in France to offer comprehensive care combining medical care and psychosocial support. Ghada Hatem heads a team of around thirty employees – doctors, midwives, psychologists, nurses, but also social workers, police officers, lawyers, around ten outside workers – and around a hundred volunteers who lead discussion groups and workshops (theater, karate, etc.), a unique treatment offer. This teamwork takes on its full meaning here. And for many, the engine, “It’s Ghada”. Despite a very busy schedule, the person concerned, lioness hair, light blue eyes, listens and receives with a smile, and a lot of humor.

Nestled in the city of Saint-Denis, next to the Delafontaine hospital, the place is warm, multicolored, cheerful – a bulwark against distress. On each door of the consultation rooms, portraits by Paul Wardé pay tribute to the heroines of the fight for women’s rights. The only man entitled to citizenship among these portraits, Lucien Neuwirth, the deputy who passed the law legalizing the pill in 1967.

A huge demand

Since then, the model has spread. In total, there are about twenty structures. That of Marseille (backed by the AP-HM) should open its doors in December, that of Bichat (AP-HP) in a few days, that of La Pitié-Salpêtrière (AP-HP) has just been inaugurated, not to mention Tours, Rennes, Bourg-en-Bresse and many others… The demand is immense, from France and abroad. Which is very time consuming for the pioneer team.

Violence against women and girls has increased during lockdowns linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. And reports are still increasing. “We cannot say that men are more violent, but we know that precariousness and social difficulties are co-factors of violence”, Ghada Hatem worries. Despite this, “The number of victims who go as far as filing a complaint remains very insufficient, of the order of 25%”, she regrets. To facilitate this process, police officers, trained and volunteers, are present every week at the Maison des femmes. Within this structure, it is planned to open ” as soon as possible “ a small medico-judicial unit dedicated to women victims of sexual violence, accessible 24 hours a day.

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