TOPIC BRIEFS

Tackling the issue of violence in health care facilities.

Workplace violence is not only the evil and violent events that make the news; it is also the everyday occurrences, such as verbal abuse, that are often overlooked or ignored. Violence is much more common in healthcare than in other industries, and although many violent events in healthcare are perpetrated by patients, a notable percentage are not. Individuals other than patients who may cause violence in healthcare settings include family members of patients and other visitors, employees, and criminals. Many factors contribute to violence in healthcare: patients and their family members are often vulnerable and, at times, distraught; healthcare workers must function in typically stressful environments since there is 24-hour access to the hospital setting, and the presence of drugs can make healthcare settings targets for violence. Healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined. The violence ranges from verbal aggression to physical assault, including the use of deadly weapons against physicians, other workers, and patients. This action is therefore associated with a variety of risks for patient and worker safety and rights as well as organizational liability. In addition to physical harm, individuals who experience or witness violence in the healthcare workplace are at risk for emotional consequences that can lead to time away from work, burnout, job dissatisfaction, and decreased productivity. These and other consequences compromise both worker and patient safety. Healthcare employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment free from recognized hazards, and failure to effectively achieve that leads to the risk of violence can result in losses in many different aspects, for the patients the workers and healthcare facility itself. 

Addressing the issue of the human trafficking in Venezuela as a result of the Venezuelan Crisis

The Venezuelan Crisis began in 2010 under the presidency of Hugo Chavez and has continued into the second six-year-term of current president Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan crisis has its roots in the country’s rich oil reserves, which under encouragement from Chavez (1999-2013), composed the majority of Venezuela’s earnings from exported goods. Human trafficking is an issue that is not talked about enough, this horrifying issue has help captive the freedom, the childhood and the rights of many females and males all around the world, especially in Venezuela due to the Venezuelan Crisis. Due to extreme poverty caused by the Crisis, many Venezuelans are left vulnerable to human trafficking. Those abducted are usually women and children. More than 30 percent of the population is out of work and, for those in work, the monthly minimum wage has been so eroded by inflation that it is only enough to buy a single cup of coffee. Traffickers target some of the poorest states in Venezuela where they tempt women with promises of well-paying work, only to sell them into the sex trade in Colombian cities or to an ever-increasing number of countries, including Ecuador and Peru. Around 4500 female sex workers are currently being exploited in Colombia, and without appropriate work authorization or documentation, these women face real risks of mistreatment by their clients, the withholding of their income, and overall exposure to physical violence, including infringements of their right to appropriate healthcare. In addition, many local women are forced into hard labor from a young age and then forced into the sex trade. The Venezuelan government has done very little to eliminate this serious issue. The U.S. Department of Labor noted in 2017 that the Venezuelan government did not report any data whatsoever on human trafficking, and did little in the past year to combat the issue besides the arrest of seven individuals involved in human smuggling.

Addressing the issue of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents 

Unaccompanied migrant children are an increasingly global phenomenon. The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child defines unaccompanied children or unaccompanied minors as “children, who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so”. Unaccompanied migrant children may have been separated from their families during their journeys, or they may have been delivered to smugglers by parents who dreamed of a better future for their children or believed that this was the only way for these children to survive. Unaccompanied migrant children may also try to reunite with their families in the country of destination. 15% of all international migrants were under the age of 20 years during 2015. The proportion of young migrants was significantly higher in the developing regions (22%) than in the developed regions (less than 10%). In the same year, children and adolescents were more than half of the total refugee population. Nearly one in three children and adolescents living outside their country of birth is a refugee; for adults, the proportion coming under the authorization of UNHCR is less than 1 in 20. Unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents are a particularly vulnerable group because of their double status as minors, which requires special protection, and as migrants, which exposes them to all kinds of serious violations of their fundamental rights. Migration of children and adolescents is usually motivated by multiple violations of the human rights in their countries of origin, lack of protection from various manifestations of violence, poverty, lack of opportunities, poor access to education and health services, ill-treatment at home and various kinds of threat, intimidation, and insecurity. Left alone, unaccompanied migrant and refugee children are particularly exposed to psychological hardship and at risk of abuse, exploitation, being trafficked and even death.