The Sunday Mail
Garikai Mazara recently in Chipinge
Since the opening of the One Stop Centre at Chipinge district hospital in May last year, there has been a marked increase in the reporting of gender-based violence cases, a Government official has said.
Ms Catherine Tumburuku, an administrator with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises, who oversees the One Stop Centre, said the opening of the centre has seen an improved reporting of gender-based violence cases as survivors no longer have to go through the previous cumbersome process.
“Previously survivors would report to a police station and proceed to hospital with the police report. Now all the services a survivor would need, from police reports, counselling, legal services to medical attention, is found under one roof,” she explained.
The Chipinge One Stop Centre is one of the only two such centres in Manicaland, the other one being at Makoni district hospital where the Family Aids Caring Trust (FACT), through USAid and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), is working closely with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises.
The centre, an innovative way of helping to combat gender-based violence, ensures that a victim of either sexual, physical or emotional abuse, receives all the necessary support at one place.
Explaining how the One Stop Centre functions, Ms Tumburuku, said on arriving at the centre, a survivor is profiled in her office, whereupon they are advised on the next destination.
“The next destination from my office is usually determined by the nature of the arising complaint. The survivor can be directed to the police office, manned by a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, in case a police report is required or they can be directed to the psycho-social counselling officer or for medical attention,” Ms Tumburuku said.
Psycho-social counselling is offered by Childline whilst legal services are provided by Care At The Core of Humanity (CATCH), and where there is need for shelter, this is provided by Simukai.
Opened in May 2018, the One Stop Centre was borne out of a realisation that survivors of gender-based violence took long to be assisted, as they had to report to police before being attended to, at the hospital.
“The process was cumbersome resulting in survivors giving up before getting the help they needed. In some cases, the perpetrator would interfere, at times threatening the survivor, and this compromised service delivery,” she further explained.
Since the opening of the centre, Ms Tumburuku said there has been a marked increase in the number of gender-based violence being reported.
“From May 2018 till the end of the year, we recorded 35 sexual abuse cases, against 126 that have been reported this year up to end of August.
“As for physical abuse, 24 cases were reported from May 2018 up to the end of the year against 51 this year up to end of August. Emotional abuse saw 46 cases from May last year till end of year against 189 this year up to end of August.”
To help spread the message that gender-based violence cases need to be reported, awareness campaigns are usually held, at least twice per month. “Most of the time we try to hold our campaigns in the hard-to-reach areas, so that they are aware of the existence of the One Stop Centre as well as what constitutes gender-based violence,” explained Ms Tumburuku.
Ms Unity Muchero, from CATCH, said her organisation offers legal advice where it is needed. “If there is any need for legal representation, we help the survivor. It could be in terms of accessing maintenance or court monitoring and support, that is the primary role that our organisation deals with.”
Given the success that the Chipinge district hospital One Stop Centre has enjoyed, there are plans to build a similar unit at Mutare General Hospital, to bring such units to three in Manicaland.
The One Stop Centre is funded by USAid and Pepfar and has several implementing partners like FACT, Simukai, CATCH, Childline and Family Support Trust.