Person in charge, Patience Ganunga
By Tione Andsen, MANA
The setting up of a One-Stop Centre at Chiwamba Health Facility in Lilongwe North East has contributed significantly to reduction of cases of gender-based violence (GBV) which were rampant in the area.
The facility’s person in charge, Patience Ganunga revealed the development on Monday to the visiting Oxfam media team which was on a follow-up visit of the CoVID-19 Response Project.
The project is being implemented under the consortium of nine international non-governmental organizations (INGO) and Oxfam with funds from European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).
Ganunga said through the ECHO project, Oxfam helped in the establishment of One-Stop centre to curb GBV cases which were reported to be rampant in the area.
She explained that the One-Stop Centre was being managed by staff members, social welfare office and the police and that it is functional since the staff manning it are able to link up when there are issues of GBV and assist victims accordingly.
She said this has been made possible due to the training the staff members, religious and traditional leaders received on how to handle GBV cases in their areas.
“Communities have been sensitised on issues of GVB and the project has provided suggestion boxes through which communities are able to report cases,” Ganunga said.
She noted that because of cultural beliefs, most communities — particularly women and girls — were failing to open up on issues of sexual and physical abuse they were facing in their homes.
“We have now noticed some changes in the behaviour of the communities as they are able to come to the centre for counselling and reporting ofissues on GBV,” she said, adding the suggestion boxes are being taken care of by community-based mobilisers for safe keeping.
“We are making progress and we have had rape cases taken to court and some men have been jailed for it,” she said.
In his remarks, Village Head Mwendera said the introduction of One-Stop Centre in the area has broken the culture of silence in which most communities were not able to report issues of GBV.
He added that now that communities are empowered, they are able to refer and report incidences of GBV.
Chairperson for Chimutu Area Development Committee, Lyfas Lomosi said community structures have been empowered to monitor the occurrence of GBV cases in their localities.
“We have realised that the area had a lot of cases which were happening but were not reported.
“Some cases were criminal in nature but communities were not aware. Now they have been enlightened and are able to report them,” he added.
The ECHO project started on August 1, 2020 and runs for 15 months up to October 31, 2021.