International Women’s Day: DIS Field Study Edition

This week I went on two separate field studies. One with my Pregnancy, Birth, and Infancy class and one with my Healthcare for At-Risk Populations class. They both impacted me in different ways as a young woman so I decided to write about them here…

Hospitals, Midwives, Babies, etc.

My Pregnancy, Birth, and Infancy in Denmark class went to Holbæk hospital in an area about an hour west of Copenhagen. My teacher for the course is a practicing midwife who is currently working on developing a new midwife education program for the region that Holbæk hospital is in and she used to work there herself. 3 midwife students in varying stages of their education showed us around the hospital and led workshops.

The three workshops that we participated in are the reason why this will be my only blog that will not contain pictures. Some of you might be little squeamish and I want you to keep coming back and reading my blog! We were able to practice checking how dilated a pregnant woman was on a model, practice guiding the baby out of the woman and on to her chest, and last but certainly not least touch an actual placenta. Now, to many of you that might sound gross or unnecessary but to me it was wonderful. I am so thankful for the women who gave birth that morning for allowing us to learn from the part of them that nourished and supported their new baby’s life. I may have texted my mom, who is a medical professional, freaking out after because it was such a cool and unique experience.

While this experience reminded me how truly amazing birth is and how unbelievably strong women are around the world for carrying and delivering their children, my other field study taught me something different.

Hope Now

This week in my Healthcare Strategies for At-Risk Populations class we are learning about healthcare and harm reduction practices for sex workers. We had the opportunity to watch a documentary created by Michelle Mildwater who founded the NGO Hope Now in 2007. Hope Now works with sex trafficked women in Denmark, especially African women. She also attended our class and spoke with us and answered questions.

Those two hours may have been the hardest two hours of my abroad experience. The horror that is human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking in this case, was truly brought to my attention in class that day. I feel like it is now my responsibility to educate others so here are some stats:

  • Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry
  • The ILO estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. 75% of them are women and girls. 22% are trafficked for forced or coerced sex work.
  • The trafficking of women and children is the world’s fastest growing crime. Faster than drug trafficking. Faster than weapons trafficking.

These women in Denmark are immensely vulnerable and are unable to report to the police because they are in the country illegally. Michelle told a story that really hit me.

Trigger warning: sexual assault.

Michelle got a call from a trafficked woman who is in Denmark illegally. She had been sexually assaulted and needed medical care. Michelle met her and was able to bring her to the doctor and a rape kit was performed. Michelle called her contact at the police and said hey, I have a woman here who was raped and she would life to report and testify but she is here illegally. The police said they would have to charge and arrest her for being in the country illegally. The woman chose not to report.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hope Now and the work that Michelle does, click here. Her and her team provide trauma therapy and a variety of other amazing services. I was so honored to meet her and be able to hear about her experiences first hand.

Both of these field studies happened in the week following International Women’s Day. A day where social media is flooded with support for women and calls for equality. My experience in class this week showed me both sides of that movement. The one that highlights the wonders of being a woman and the positive change that is being fought for every day and the honest truth that we still have a long road ahead.

Sara

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