Estonia plans to create a network of multidisciplinary centers for victims of sexual assault, the likes of which have operated in Norway for the past 30 years.
The centers are a pilot project but they are believed to have the potential to become part of the national health care system. A group of Estonian specialists recently visited Norway to learn from its experience in handling victims of sexual assault.
"A sexual assault center has operated in Oslo as part of the University Hospital's emergency ward for 30 years. The victims receive medical, forensic medical and psychological help. The center works in close cooperation with the police and other authorities who handle sexual assault cases. Similar centers have been founded in other regions as well," said gynecologist Made Laanpere, one of the leaders of the project.
Estonia is currently lacking an all-round support system for survivors of sexual assault. The first centers that take after the Norwegian model, will be opened in Tartu University Hospital and Tallinn.
The study tour to Norway was funded by the Norway government grant for reducing domestic and gender-based violence in Estonia. The grant program is coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The Estonian delegation visited Oslo Sexual Assault Center, Oslo Police, Dixi Resources Center that unites victims of sexual assault, the ROSA project against human trafficking, a center for sexually abused children and a special forensic medicine unit at the Oslo University Hospital.
It consisted of specialists from the Estonian Sexual Health Association, Police and Border Guard, East-Tallinn Central Hospital, Northern District Prosecutor's Office, Ministry of Justice, Tartu University Hospital's Women's Clinic, Social Insurance Board, Estonian Forensic Science Institute, and Tallinn and Tartu Sexual Health Clinics.
Estonia also hopes to learn from Norway's experiences in helping abused children and the victims of human trafficking.