In the slum of Kanyama, an overpopulated settlement in the outskirts of the capital Lusaka – where people live without the essential services such as drinking water, sanitation services and a school – the phenomenon of exploitation and abuses against women, girls and minors, especially if orphans, is very serious. Women are victims of social and cultural injustice and of domestic violence; moreover, they have limited access to education and to the formal labour market.
“Stop the Violence” project coordinated by Elena Arvati and funded by PRO.SA Foundation is developed in Kanyama. It is an activity that enables us to identify the victims through a counselling service and to offer nursing services, legal assistance and psychological rehabilitation. The local staff get in touch with the victims, help them to access one stop centres and accompany them to other organizations that offer the same services. The project also includes awareness workshops on gender-based violence in schools which are addressed to adolescents and community leaders. This cultural intervention is extremely crucial in order to eliminate gender stereotypes which are at the basis of the violence phenomenon, promoting the culture of respect between men and women.
Stop the Violence always collaborates with local institutions, the police and health facilities. This collaboration helped us to achieve very important results, like the opening on 1st October 2019 of the One Stop Centre within Kanyama hospital: the biggest public health facility in the slum, whose catchment area also includes Chibolya and John Laing, two other slums in Lusaka. After a little period of training which involved Stop the Violence team, some policemen, doctors and nurses, an Anti-GBV Unit was set up.
Today, a beaten, wounded or abused woman who comes to Kanyama Hospital, can find sensitized medical personnel that is trained on GBV, therefore women can immediately make a complaint, if they want, through free legal assistance.
Since more and more victims were asking for assistance to obtain child support from their husbands, Stop the Violence also collaborates with a paralegal. Since we started working within the hospital, the number of identified cases of violence is constantly rising.
The Anti-GBV Unit of Kanyama Hospital is currently the only outpost in an area inhabited by thousands of people and its opening is a meaningful step forward in the fight against Gender Based Violence.