One Stop Centre: Supporting victims of violence in rural Kigoma
Elizabeth (not her real name) a resident of one of the villages in Kibondo District in Kigoma Region was only 14 years when she was raped several times by her uncle who threatened to kill her if she revealed her ordeal. However, she still decided to get help but due to the long distance to the counselling service unit, the police station and the health centre, Elizabeth only received first aid a day later - and was told there was no evidence of rape!
“My uncle talked to people who persuaded me not to report to the police station nor tell anyone what had happened. I didn’t have the means, bearing in mind the distance I had to travel to get to the police station which required me to have a fare of not less than Sh5,000,” she says in an interview.
The 16-year old says the only help she received was from her sister, who is a nurse at one of the regional hospitals, and advised that she gets examined.
“Luckily, I wasn’t affected by any sexually transmitted disease. However, I was psychologically affected and didn’t even want to see my biological father or any older man as I viewed them as possible attackers,” she explains.
She says despite receiving help - and her uncle being taken to court - there are still many girls whom she felt were not getting immediate and necessary help due to various challenges.
“Having a special building with all the services required to support such victims can be very helpful especially in poor communities where many of us are potential victims of abuse,” says the Form One student.
Like in Elizabeth’s case, the inaccessibility and unavailability of services leads to some victims suffering more from the atrocities committed and the disappearance of evidence that would have helped the victims to get justice when the case is brought before the court.
In the financial year 2020/21, Statistics from the Kibondo District social welfare office show that the total number of cases reported for gender based and sexual violence against children was 32 (26 girls and six boys), 57 physical violence acts (41 girls, 16 boys), and psychological violence stood at 40 cases (36 girls, 14 boys). The number of children reported abandoned during that period was 78 (24 boys, 54 girls). The number of cases of sexual violence against adults was 65, of which 11 were men and 54 were women, with reported cases being 101 (96 women and five men). The figures also show that 39 women and 14 men were affected psychologically, with 214 marital disputes reported.
Save the Children’s intervention
To support the plight of victims of gender based and sexual violence and violence against children in Kigoma Region, Save the Children working in collaboration with the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and the Government of Tanzania, have constructed one stop sentres, within hospitals in Kasulu and Kibondo districts in Kigoma Region to provide appropriate services to victims under one roof. Hospitals have been designated for the one stop centres so that victims can go in at any time without any obstacles and gain access to testing and other services and products on time.
Save the Children’s goal is to ensure that, when a victim goes to report any incident of violence, he or she should get all the services in one place. This will bring motivation and help reduce the cases in the region.
According to Mr Magubiki Masebya, a social welfare officer in Kibondo, the building within Kibondo District Referral Hospital has four rooms: a doctor’s room, a police officers’ room, a gender desk unit, two rooms for social security officers, a counselling desk and a reception as well as two ordinary toilets, and toilet facilities for children with special needs.
He says that, “The presence of this one-stop centre in our district (Kibondo) will enable victims of violence to access services quickly and efficiently and ultimately enable them to secure their rights in the judiciary.”
The Kibondo District Welfare Officer says they have been collaborating with Save the Children in all 19 councils and 50 villages in the district on the issues of child protection and safety. He also points out that Save the Children has assisted in equipping every room, including play equipment for children when they arrive for assistance, and that the presence of the centre has created a friendly environment for service providers to easily access victim information, including those for children.
"In the past, our district has been facing a major challenge due to failure to get the victims' evidence of atrocities because of the distance from one service provider to another. As it is now, immediately the victim arrives at the station, he or she meets with every eligible service provider,” he explains.
He says there have been challenges due to having different experts who deal with victims of violence and who live in different environments thus leading to difficulties in accessing accurate data. This One Stop Centre will enable the government and other stakeholders to access the data on victims of violence on time.
"But since they are all under one roof the information that the doctor will have, will be the same as the one at the police desk because there’s no room for fabrication of information," he says.
He says there have been clients who have had a doctor's report and who are supposed to go to the police, but are frustrated because of the distance from the hospital to the police station. “One stop centre is a permanent solution for us.”