One-stop centre opens in Malawi to fast track assistance to gender based violence victims

Malawi President Joyce BandaVictims of gender based violence in the essential service provision challenged Malawi can at least smile as the country focuses on having as many as One Stop Centres (OSC) as possible so that gender based victims are helped out without much a hassle, as the case has been,  Newtime Africa understands.

Beside an alarming rate of one in every four women, in an the 12 million populated southern africa country being subjected to some form of gender based violence, Malawi now boasts of  two such facilities – at Zomba central hospital and Queen Elizabeth central hospital (QECH).

And the official opening on Monday February 13 2013 by the head of state of the one at QECH in the commercial city of Blantyre is a delight of not only the affected but a cross section of  professionals as well.

Malawi president who was happy that her people will now have some relief through the development said: “I understand that concept emerged from the need to provide an integrated and holistic approach to ensure that survivors of sexual or physical abuse are able to access all required services in the continuum of care at one place.

“This is commendable as the one stop centre will offer an access to medical, psychosocial, counselling, self-esteem, lifesaving and shortly economic empowerment support in a coordinated manner.”

She added: “As you know I am personally committed to ending gender based violence that is why in 2006 as minister of gender and child welfare, I championed the passing of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill and it is my government’s wish to eliminate violence in the country.”

The initiative has been made possible with funding from the British Department for International Department (DfID), and National chairman of Juvenile Justice Court, Justice Edward Twea disclosed that the centre will pool together all the necessary service providers

“We talk of expertise from health, gender, social and community services, police, judiciary and the civil society organization to work as a team in assisting gender-based violence survivors which will improve the services unlike in the past when there was a lot of bureaucracy and humiliation before justice could be seen,” said Justice Twea who further  observed that the victims had to go through over 13 steps to have their issues addressed “and to make matters worse they had to face humiliation along the process to seek justice.”

The chairperson also revealed that the process was unnecessarily too long but now the victims will be assisted amicably as the centre will have all involved in the process, like the police, counsellors and clinicians, under one roof.

The Judge also observed that the previous system was neither child nor woman-friendly.

DFID reiterated its commitment in assisting Malawi in its efforts in fighting gender based violence as assured by head of DfID in Malawi Sarah Sanyahumbi , who noted that many times issues of gender based violence are economically related, and called upon the Malawi government to economically empower women so that they can ably speak against violence.

On its part, UNICEF said that OSC is one of the values of existence for his organization and the country’s representative, Mahimbo Mdoe observed that most of the gender based violence is being perpetrated by family members yet they are the ones with the responsibility of offering protection.

17 similar centres are intended to be established in the country to make the services more convenient, revealed gender, children and social welfare minister, Anita Kalinde, with Lilongwe and Mzuzu opening soon.

Dr. Joyce Banda took over the presidency in April last year.

© 2013, Peter Chipanga. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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