Dr Fatma Ali Haji_Safe Heroes
Dr Fatma Ali Haji, clinical officer. Photo: Together for Girls/Alexandra Tucci Thomas/Tanzania.
Dr Fatma Ali Haji, clinical officer. Photo: Together for Girls/Alexandra Tucci Thomas/Tanzania.

Safe Heroes: Mnazi Mmoja, Zanzibar

13th November 2018

The first-of-its-kind in Zanzibar, the Mnazi Mmoja One Stop Centre is a place where survivors can quickly and safely access post-rape care.

Opened in 2011, the Mnazi Mmoja One Stop Centre in Stone Town, Zanzibar, offers specialized support to survivors of sexual violence, including legal, psycho-social, and healthcare in one convenient, discreet location. The center is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Detached from the busy Mnazi Mmoja hospital, the small building consists of three rooms, for police, counseling, and doctor exams.

Dr Fatma Ali Haji_Safe Heroes
Dr Fatma Ali Haji is the clinical officer at the Stone Town center. Photo: Together for Girls/Alexandra Tucci Thomas/Tanzania.

Holistic care and support

For survivors of sexual violence, receiving rapid care is critical: HIV can be prevented if survivors receive life-saving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) within 72 hours, and access to emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if taken within 120 hours. Medical help for physical trauma may be urgently needed.

Zanzibar hopes to increase the number of survivors accessing care through more centers like the Mnazi Mmoja One Stop Centre, where the teams can provide all the support and care needed in one place.

The one stop approach removes the need for survivors to make multiple trips to several different buildings to access care, complete paperwork, and deal with different sectors of the government.

Dr Fatma Ali Haji_Safe Heroes
The Mnazi Mmoja One Stop Centre offers holistic care and support. Photo: Together for Girls/Alexandra Tucci Thomas/Tanzania.

“The National Plan of Action helped mobilize resources and draw attention to the issue,” said Dr. Fatma, the clinical officer at the center. “But there is still a need to do more.”

The Violence Against Children and Youth Survey, conducted by the Government of Zanzibar in 2009, shows that most survivors do not access the care they need. The VACS Report also reveals that although six percent of girls (over 1 in 20 females) and nine percent of boys (almost 1 in 10 males) in Zanzibar reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual violence before the age of 18, only 1 in 10 children who experienced sexual violence received services.

“The purpose of the center is to make it easier for victims to access services quickly and not have to go to multiple places."

Dr. Fatma Ali Haji
Expanding care
The success of the Stone Town one stop centre has led to five more opening throughout Zanzibar supporting survivors of physical and sexual violence.

The Stone Town center was opened with support of Save the Children and Sida, in collaboration with the Child Protection Unit of the Zanzibar Department of Social Welfare. Additionally, UNFPA provided gender-based violence training and some equipment for the center, and UNICEF provided child protection training. Five other one stop centers are now open in Zanzibar: in Chake Chake, Michweni and Wete hospitals in Pemba, and Makunduchi and Kivunge hospitals in Unguja.

All of the one stop centres serve survivors of physical and sexual violence, focusing on females (of all ages) and male children and adolescents. When a survivor comes to the center, they can receive medical, legal, and psycho-social services:

  • Medical services: Each center has health professionals on staff, who can provide medical examinations, including testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as providing post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
  • Legal services: Police officers (who are not in uniform, to make the survivor feel more comfortable) help survivors report the incident and submit the Police Form Number 3, which is required before seeking health care if the survivor want to press charges.
  • Psycho-social services: The center is equipped to provide counseling by social workers. Social workers follow up with each patient who comes to the center.

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Although the government has raised awareness of the centers through television ads, radio announcements, and community engagement (via community partners and local police education), Dr. Fatma wishes they had funding to educate in schools, in order to spread awareness of the center but also to “educate children about how to prevent and recognize violence.”

There is a lot more work to be done but Dr. Fatma says that the one stop centers are an important step.

“With the one stop center, more victims get the services they need on time, right away."

Dr. Fatma Ali Haji

This story was created as part of the Together for Girls partnership’s trip to Tanzania. Special thanks to UNICEF.