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.
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.
“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 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:
“My dream for these children is for them to reach their own dreams according to their own desires.”
“What gives us hope is how we are rescuing these children. If I stop doing this, who will?”
“My request is that we reach more girls all over Tanzania. They need to know that there is a safe space to talk. We’re here.”
“My salon is famous within the community. People are brought to me even if I don’t know them because they know that I am a champion for the victims of sexual violence.”
"I started working in violence prevention because I believe that children need to be well-protected to ensure that they can grow and develop."
“Children’s issues are not a single person’s responsibility, we all must work in cooperation for the benefit of the child."
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.
This story was created as part of the Together for Girls partnership’s trip to Tanzania. Special thanks to UNICEF.