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‘Help rape victims urgently’

By Mirirai Nsingo / Published on Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 18:27 PM / No Comments / 500 views

14 December 2016

Dep Min Musiiwa
Dep Min Musiiwa

THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has reiterated that rape victims should not be denied access to health interventions even without a police report.

Speaking during the launch of National Guidelines on the Clinical Management of survivors’ of sexual violence, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister, Adrian Musiiwa said it was critical that all rape victims access treatment within 72 hours to prevent any possible infections.

“It is crucial that, when a survivor reports to the health institution first, without a police report, the survivor should never be denied access to health intervention. This is in the Best Interest of the survivor’s health and not to lose them within the recommended 72 hours.

“Let me reiterate that, these guidelines are for use by healthcare practitioners to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence receive a standard level of care when they present themselves to a healthcare facility and that they are referred appropriately and in a timely manner for further management and support as needed,” he said on Monday as he launched the guidelines.

He also called for a multi-sectorial approach to ensure that victims are assisted on time to access health interventions which is critical to survival and in the best interest of them to realise fair justice.

While he hailed the increased awareness and empowerment of children and communities to report incidences of sexual violence, Deputy Minister Musiiwa said the increasing number of rape cases reported was worrying.

“Though the increasing numbers could be an indicator of increased awareness raising and empowerment of children and communities to report incidences of sexual violence, this is quite worrisome.

“I consider the development of the guidelines to have been a timorous and necessary intervention in our ongoing responses towards the ever increasing numbers of children and adults who are caught up in the net of sexual violence.

“The question is what percentage of these survivors report within the 72 hours of the incidence? The major focus within the guidelines is around the 72 hours in view of minimizing chances of contracting HIV, STIs and protection from pregnancy. In addition to that, this is a critical time for reliable forensic evidence to be collected.”

The United Nations Population Services gender specialist, Choice Daniso concurred that it was crucial for rape victims to get life saving treatment just after being raped.

“We encourage all people that become victims of sexual violence to report first at the healthcare centre. This is crucial because there are certain emergency services which can only be available at the health care centre,” Choice Daniso said in an interview yesterday.

“Within the 72 hour period the survivor can be administered on life saving services such as, posts exposure prophylaxes care, what it means is that if she had contracted HIV from the rape, she can be given special Anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs) to prevent the virus from taking route in her blood. She can also receive emergency contraceptive to prevent a pregnancy from happening and also medicines that will protect her from getting sexually transmitted infections.”