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Rampant abuses worry minister

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Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume has expressed worry over the rise in cases of sexual and gender based violence towards women and children despite government spending a fortune to curb the malpractice.

Kumpalume raised the fears in Mzuzu on Thursday when he presided over an official opening of a One Stop Centre at Mzuzu Central Hospital which is aimed at providing comprehensive services to victims of such abuses.

Statistics reveal that 41 percent of women in Malawi experience physical or sexual violence while an estimated 2.4 million children are being raised in violent homes.

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“Any society has victims of violence; unfortunately such people are denied the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to national development due to the psychological trauma which is long term and the physical damage. So it does affect our development agenda,” said Kumpalume.

Adding “The good thing is we can put that to a stop since the perpetrators are within our communities. Report them and make a difference to our society. Apart from helping the victim you are also helping your government which invests huge resources in trying to deal with these problems.”

On the new facility Kumpalume said it will reduce chances for secondary victimization since victims do not have to travel to various service points to recount the horrific incidents.

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“You only have to go to one building and you will find every help that you need. We have done things wrongly for long; it does not serve the purpose for a clinician or anyone to demand for a police report from a victim of sexual assault or anything of that nature before helping them. Because that exposes them to secondary abuse,” he explained.

During the event, the minister also launched a book on national guidelines for provision of services for physical and sexual violence.

Child Protection Officer at Unicef who are the main fanciers of the project Martin Nkuna said the project is in line with his organization’s objectives of providing a safe environment for vulnerable groups like women and children.

Built to a tune of $200,000 from UKaid the One Stop Center is expected to significantly help in reducing cases of abuse in the city of Mzuzu which were pegged at 654 in 2015 alone.

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