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Gweru offers services to victims of rape

The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in the Midlands province has established a centre offering services for rape victims and other survivors of sexual abuse and gender-based violence.

By Stephen Chadenga

The centre, built this year at Gweru General Hospital and funded with help from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will provide medical, psycho-social as well as legal support to affected girls and women.

According to a provincial gender officer in the ministry, Maya Chivi, the aim of Gweru One Stop Centre (Gweru OSC) is to provide a multi-sectoral response to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

“The overall aim of the Gweru OSC is to increase access to holistic and life-saving multi-sectoral response to the needs of adult and child survivors of sexual and gender based violence — that is survivor-centred health, legal and pscho-social services,” Chivi said at a Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) meeting in Gweru recently.

Though Chivi could not reveal the cost of the project, which is set to be officially opened next month, she said Gweru OSC would greatly help in the area of gender-based violence service provision, prevention and response.

The one stop centre comprises a kitchen, a doctor’s examination room, nurses counselling room and legal aid office where survivors will receive pscho-social support and legal help.

“We also have toilets and a shower where the survivor will take a bath after the doctor’s examination,” Chivi said. “The soiled clothes will be handed over to the police for forensic evidence.”

She said the Gweru OSC would minimise the risk and exposure to HIV and Aids, secondary trauma and violence.

The centre, she said, would cater for people in the Midlands province where her team would embark on awareness campaigns so that victims of gender-based violence and sexual abuse could access the services.

Though Chivi could not readily give statistics of people who have visited the centre for help since its inception mid this year, she said survivors of gender-based violence came from as far as Lower Gweru, Shurugwi and Chirumanzu had visited the centre.

Chivi said the centre would increase the number of sexual assault cases being completed at the courts quickly as nurses could now provide medical affidavits, testifying and giving expert evidence in a court of law.

Regional magistrate, Morgan Nemadire who chaired the VFU meeting called on the Gweru OSC to sensitise survivors of sexual and gender-based violence on the services offered by the centre.

“There is need to sensitise survivors of gender-based violence and sexual abuse on the services offered by the one stop centre so that people in Midlands province can benefit,” Nemadire said.

Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Home at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare has a similar facility at its Adult Rape Clinic, but it only provides for a few victims, mainly from the Harare catchment area.

According to a police report released at the end of last year, 664 women and girls had been raped. Of these 334 were adults and the remainder were children, which is a 6% rise in child abuse and rape cases.

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