Thursday, June 3, 2010

UPDATED: Reader beware: This isn't a pleasant item

There's an invisible secret lurking around the poor, tough
neighborhood on the outskirts of Lima where we were yesterday and are again today.

It speaks of tragic consequences for its victims, and has caused
sadness for PINCC's American team visiting here to train Peruvian
medicos to prevent cancer.

In the United States, the generally accepted statistic is that
something like one in four women can recollect at least one episode in
their younger days when an older boy or man did something ranging from
inappropriate sexually to criminally abusive. It could be a family
member, a friend or a stranger, but all have been left with at least
unpleasant memories; some have suffered deep wounds.

Here in Lima, at the Medisol clinic in the Villa Maria district, our
patient intake people encountered women who at the slightest
provocation or simplest question would break down and tell of rape or
other sexual abuse as young children or young women.

In fact, of 25 women seen Wednesday, 12 told of abuse. (Thursday's numbers seem lower.). One, a 65-year-
old, said she had never been married because of her bitter experience
as an 8-year-old, attacked on the street. Scarred for life.

One interviewer had five of her first six patients tell such stories,
some sobbing at the opportunity to confide in someone they will likely
never see again.

It left us shocked, and we left wondering
how and why the numbers were so high..

All the women who acknowledged such things were offered counseling on
the spot through the clinic.

A sample this small can't be used to create a valid generalization,
but in our small group of patients Wednesday, the statistic was nearly
double what we find in the U. S.

This wasn't an expected revelation.

-- Larry Shushan

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