News

One Stop Centres: Facilitating comprehensive and ethical care for survivors of gender-based violence

6 March 2019
Survivors of GBV can access comprehensive care at the OSC at Mwananyamala Hospital, Dar es Salaam

In February 2019, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), Tanzania, through its implementing partner Children’s Dignity Forum, and in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDEC), officially opened a One Stop Centre (OSC) at Mwananyamala Hospital, Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam,  the twelfth of its kind to be established across the country.  

The OSCs promote a survivor-centred approach to violence against women, creating a supportive environment in which a survivor’s rights are prioritized and where she is treated with dignity and respect. At OSCs, healthcare, legal assistance and psychosocial support services are available under one roof, a result of strengthened collaboration between different service delivery actors at the community and national level.  

Violence against women is tragically a common reality, and social and cultural norms act as barriers to women seeking help.  Many women cite a lack of care and support as their main reason for not reporting incidences to the Police.  The OSCs carve out an avenue to comprehensive care and justice for women, who are or have been subjected to violence, that did not previously exist. They challenge constructed social and gender norms that make violence against women acceptable and aim to ensure that survivors of violence have a positive experience of external support, which in turn will build trust within communities to hold perpetrators of violence to account.

Adimu*, a 36-year-old mother of two, recalls how her husband attacked her when she came home late. Her story paints a disturbing picture of the plight of thousands of women in Tanzania who are subjected indiscriminately to violence.  “I cried for help when he started attacking me. He used his fist first, then he grabbed a knife. I tried to explain to him what had happened but as soon as I opened my mouth he started attacking me.”

The National Plan of Action to end Violence against Women and Children (NPA-VAWC) 2017/2018-2021/2022 sees the government commit to cut violence against women and children in half by 2022. UNFPA and its partners are supporting government in its implementation. Plans are already in place to establish additional OSCs at other locations in Tanzania to reach the target of 26 as set out in the NPA-VAWC.

* Name has been changed.