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Family Support Centre for Women’s Safety launched in Epworth

Story by Margaret Matibiri

A family support centre for women and girls who would have fallen victim to gender-based violence (GBV) was launched in Overspill, Epworth this Monday as a collaboration between Japan, the Zimbabwean government and Katswe Sistahood.

The centre, which will operate as a one-stop facility, will offer legal, medical and psychological assistance to girls and women in a bid to prosecute perpetrators of violence and also equip victims with skills and a market to empower themselves financially, was supported through Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).

Katswe Sistahood director, Talent Jumo said the centre is there to deal with poverty among women as it is one of the leading drivers of GBV.

“The centre will serve as a one-stop centre and incubation hub for young businesses, providing a safe space for survivors of violence to access support, we are partnering with various government departments including the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Ministry of Social Services, Ministry Youth, and other departments,” she said.

“We have the Victim Friendly Unit because the idea is for girls and women who are violated in this community to be able to walk in and find a counsellor, a police officer who can assist with their case, a nurse who will be stationed here to assist when there is need for medical examinations, psychosocial support, referral counselling and so forth.

“For the first time, we are piloting this methodology where we are bringing in the one-stop centre approach and combining it with economic empowerment activities. The centre is located right in the business district to demystify issues of GBV and also ensure that survivors are also supported through economic empowerment as the key drivers of violence for most of the women and girls experiencing violence is poverty and as a result, in many cases, they cannot pay for services to get assistance.

“Beyond getting justice for them and ensuring that perpetrators are arrested we are taking a survivors-centred approach where we are saying the perpetrator can be arrested but is that enough, does it take away the grief, the trauma, hence the need for psychosocial support to address some of the underlying drivers which is poverty.”

Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Ambassador Satoshi Tanaka, who was handing over the centre said it will provide support to 3 000 women and girls and reach 20 000 people through its outreach activities each year.

“At Overspill Market in Epworth, many women are involved in informal trading, often accompanied by their children. However, with inadequate safety and hygiene for them at the market, they all too often become victims of theft or GBV. Katswe Sistahood has been advocating for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for women and girls in Epworth for several years and identified the need for a haven at the market,” said the Ambassador.

“The new Family Support Centre will provide such a safe space for women working at the market, as well as their children. They will be able to access a comprehensive range of SRHR services, including counselling, medical, psycho-social and legal support.

“In addition, the Centre will have a police post so that people can report any GBV cases as soon as they occur. Finally, it will conduct outreach activities in the community to increase awareness of GBV and change societal norms.”

The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said the centre will promote economic empowerment and business mentorship for women.

“Two years ago, we were in this place opening the safe market for women entrepreneurs and today we are here again opening the GBV service centre. With these two infrastructures, I foresee women making greater strides in terms of promoting economic empowerment and business mentorship,” said the minister.

“It has been my dream when we opened the safe market that we should have another structure that provides women with workspace and products coming from there will then be sold in the market. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the reality of this dream.”

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