A TREATMENT and support centre for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) has been launched in Bindura First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has called for a multi-sectoral response in the fight against GBV. BY PHYLLIS MBANJE Speaking during the launch of the treatment and support centre, Mnangagwa acknowledged that individual efforts would not yield much in the face of the rising social scourge. “Gender-based violence requires multi-sectoral stakeholders to respond with various services that complete the package for essential services,” the First Lady said, adding that GBV requires specialised services. Also known as a “one-stop centre” where services will be provided under one roof, the centre is located at Bindura General Hospital and was conveniently launched to coincide with the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism Against GBV. United Nations Population Fund Zimbabwe country representative, Esther Muia said violence against women and girls had increased since the beginning of March with the COVID-19 crisis creating a “shadow pandemic” of GBV. “As we are officially opening this one-stop centre, we are grateful to the European Union’s Spotlight Initiative for allowing us to expand access to services for survivors at our time of greatest need as a country,” she said. GBV remains a huge problem in the country with at least one in every three women aged 15 and 49 having experienced physical violence since the age of 15 while 27% of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. The European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said: “One-stop centres are essential assets in the fight against GBV because they ensure that survivors have access to all the necessary services in one location, provided by appropriately trained and sensitive personnel.” Olkonnen called on the government and other stakeholders to dedicate more resources to tackling this scourge. Women Affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the one-stop centre model was one of the promising models for GBV response which had been implemented since 2009. The theme for this year’s commemorations of the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV is: End Gender Based Violence: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect.