Catholic hospitals in Germany are told they must treat victims of sexual assault

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 28 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f580
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. 1Hamburg

Hospitals in Germany operated by the Roman Catholic church have come under scrutiny after it was revealed that a woman who may have been sexually assaulted was denied a basic examination by two Catholic hospitals in Cologne.

The incident, first publicised on 16 January in a newspaper article, has triggered almost daily headlines in Germany and sparked debate among politicians, doctors, and women’s support groups on the role of Catholic hospitals.

The first news article on the incident, published in the daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeige,1 quoted Irmgard Maiworm, the doctor who first treated the woman in an emergency centre. Rather than remaining an anonymous source, Maiworm allowed herself to be photographed for the news story and was quoted by name, highly unusual in Germany in an article on such a controversial topic.

On 15 December the 25 year old woman …

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