[Press release sent on 18 October 2023] – The Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) has been offering the umedo service (umedo.lu) since 2018. umedo is aimed at helping adult victims of physical and/or sexual violence who have their case documented but do not initially want to file a complaint. With a round table focused on the topic, LNS, the cooperation partners involved in the project, as well as victims aid organisations have now taken stock of the first 5 years and analysed the current situation.
A team of trained doctors
umedo offers victims of violence the opportunity to be examined at LNS or at one of the cooperating hospitals via an appointment and to have the traces of the respective physical assault documented and stored for a period of up to 10 years. These can be visible injuries, but also biological traces, for example. To ensure the best possible care for victims of violence, the umedo team is composed of trained doctors who have specific experience in these types of injuries and in dealing with victims of violence.
Encouraging action as the goal
Martine Schaul, who is responsible for umedo at LNS, sees the service as an opportunity to encourage victims to take a first step out of the spiral of violence: “In Luxembourg, too, physical violence is an issue that often takes place in secret. Many victims of violence still hesitate to file a complaint. With umedo, we offer them access to help that initially has no legal consequences. Only when the victim explicitly requests it, his or her dossier is forwarded to the judiciary. Until then, people at least know that their case is documented and can be retrieved at any time of their own free will. This gives many people the courage to take appropriate steps against the perpetrators at any time”.
Legal action as a possibility
The number of people who ultimately have the courage to take legal action is still rather low, as Dr Thorsten Schwark, Head of Forensic Medicine at LNS, emphasises: “In only about 20% of all cases are the relevant documents ultimately requested by the victim. This shows that we are still dealing with a subject that is a taboo in our societies, which shows even more the need for the umedo concept.
With umedo, we create an objective basis for possible legal steps, which, however, are not mandatory. Thus, we give the victim the chance to take legal action, if that is the preferred option, and the feeling that she/he can find her/his own way out of the spiral of violence.”
Nationwide established network
For Prof. Dr. André Rosenthal, Director ad interim of LNS, umedo represents a pillar of the in-house philosophy: “At LNS, we are committed to professional excellence in all the diagnostic services we provide to the people of Luxembourg on a daily basis. This applies to all departments and services and to every employee – and in a very special way to umedo. By providing the people concerned with solutions to a problem that is unfortunately still widespread, our team of highly specialised experts is also a social player. We are also helped in this by our partners from the health and justice sectors, as well as the police and other aid organisations with whom we have linked up with umedo in the nationwide aid network over the past five years.”