Gers: midwives and physiotherapists are in turn involved in the fight against domestic violence

the essential
At the initiative of the prosecution, two new agreements signed this Tuesday, September 20 will allow midwives and masseurs-physiotherapists to report cases of domestic violence to justice.

First there were the doctors in January 2021, then the nurses last May. It is now the midwives and masseurs-physiotherapists of the Gers who are joining the fight against violence against women, initiated for several months now by the Auch prosecutor’s office. It is in this sense that two conventions on the reporting of domestic violence were signed this Tuesday at the judicial court, by the Departmental Council of the Order of Masseur-Physiotherapists on the one hand and the Departmental Council of the Order of Elders – women on the other, in the presence of the prefecture and the Association for Aid to Victims and Penal Measures of the Gers (AVMP 32).

This new collaboration allows the Auch public prosecutor’s office to “lay an additional stone in the wall of the fight against violence”, as underlined by the public prosecutor Jacques-Edouard Andrault. A wall that it is necessary, according to him, to “draw up collectively”. “It is not only the police, the gendarmerie, the State services specially dedicated to this policy, it is not only justice and associations, it is all together that we must mobilize” , he continues.

“It’s a big job for us, because justice is scary”

Now largely involved in this fight, the Gers medical profession must, in order to be effective, agree to give up, if necessary, one of the pillars of its profession: medical secrecy. “It is a question which is not simple on the ethical level but on the legal level, it is clear”, explains the public prosecutor. Of course, the revelation of a secret can only be done on the basis of certain strictly established conditions: the seriousness of the facts stated and the effort made upstream to obtain the consent of the victim, although this is not not mandatory. But beyond the ethical question raised by the prosecutor, this revelation also raises that of the accompaniment of the victims and the launchers or whistleblowers. “This support is essential, insists the chief of staff of the prefect, Benoît Courtiaud. If you are poorly received, this is not how you are going to take charge and encourage people who are victims of violence to report themselves. »

It is no coincidence that legal protection is at the heart of the concerns of Anne-Laure Constans, president of the Departmental Council of the Order of Midwives. “It’s a big job for us, because justice is indeed scary. It’s always a little complicated as a health professional to denounce and feel a little treacherous. It will be a job to do with my colleagues. We are still in the discovery “, she explains with accuracy. A finding that is all the more true for a profession particularly exposed to the intimacy of its patients: “If there is a health profession that can collect a woman’s confidences, I clearly believe that midwives are the best placed, because we follow the woman from puberty until the menopause”, assures Anne-Laure Constans.

“Very few” cases reported so far by the medical profession

For masseurs-physiotherapists too, this agreement will certainly require reinforced support, even if the profession is already aware of violence against women. “On the side of the National Council, there is a great deal of work being done in relation to physiotherapists who attack women in particular. This aspect, we are starting to know it well at home, ”recalls the president of the Departmental Council of the order of masseurs-physiotherapists, Kathleen Lebreton.

It remains to be seen whether this good will will be translated into concrete actions. Behind the legal and penal guarantees offered by these two new agreements, taking action does not look easy. Jacques-Edouard Andrault thus concedes the “very few” cases of domestic violence reported by doctors, nurses and nurses since the signing of previous agreements. But the public prosecutor is not the type to give up. “I won’t give up,” he promises.

Significant increase in numbers

The activity of the Auch court on the subject of domestic violence has increased sharply in recent months, as revealed by the prosecution. There were thus 56 referrals between January and August 2022 compared to 44 last year over the same period, an increase of more than 27%. No less than 25 victims are also equipped with the Grave Danger Telephone (TGD) device, compared to only 2 two years ago. This upsurge obviously generates additional work on the judicial level, “but the game is worth the candle”, says the public prosecutor Jacques-Edouard Andrault.

Gers: midwives and physiotherapists are in turn involved in the fight against domestic violence