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Hope for Victims of Sexual Violence As MSF ‘Breaks Down Barriers’


An international medical humanitarian organisation, Medicine San Frontiers has embarked on a project titled ‘breaking down barriers to sexual violence’, which is aimed at helping sexual violence victims in Harare.

MSF Medical Coordinator for Zimbabwe, Dr Daniela Garone said her organization is calling for greater awareness on the various interventions that are available to survivors of sexual violence.

“We encourage survivors of sexual violence including rape, to seek emergency treatment within 72 hours to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unwanted pregnancy and also to reduce severe mental and physical trauma,” said Garone.

She added that sexual violence has severe mental and physical consequences, which are sometimes life threatening, including physical injury, infection with HIV or other STIs, unwanted pregnancy, and major depressive disorders.

“Despite major efforts to raise awareness about services available to survivors, MSF continues to see low levels of reporting on sexual violence among both men and women due to fear of being stigmatized, negative attitudes of health care workers, limited knowledge of consequences and fear of divorce among other reasons,” said Dr Garone.

According to MSF, about 7400 survivors have received comprehensive sexual and gender based violence care between 2011-2017.

In an interview with some survivors who commented on condition of anonymity, they expressed appreciation for the help they were getting from MSF saying.

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“Streets had become my home since April 2017 when I left home due to family issues. I experienced many bad and tough situations while in the streets but MSF fished me out and helped me,” said the other boy.

Another girl said, “I ran away from home because of abuse, but MSF has given me another opportunity and I am grateful for their help.”

MSF has been providing medical treatment and psycho social support to survivors of sexual violence since September 2011 in collaboration with the City of Harare.

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Journalist based in Harare

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