A door-to-door campaign was instrumental in bringing a young victim forward in Harare, Zimbabwe, as Juliana Nhamburo, Nurse Counsellor within Médecins Sans Frontières’ Mbare project, explains.

Trigger Warning: this story contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to people who have similar experiences.

“I remember the story of a girl who was sexually abused by her father for a long time from when she was younger, but could not disclose the abuse to anyone because of the threats that she was receiving from him.

She only managed to share her story when MSF conducted a ‘door-to-door campaign’ to educate community members about sexual violence and the importance of seeking medical treatment within 72 hours when one is sexually abused.

Although the victim missed the emergency treatment within the stipulated timeframe, she was able to receive psychosocial support and was assisted to get temporary shelter in a safer place while pursuing her case with the courts.

Our teams try and assist the victims by providing medical examination where necessary, providing medical treatment according to protocols, providing a medical certificate and when requested, giving expert evidence in courts and attending to their needs. We also provide psychosocial support through counselling services. This process helps them to heal and recover from their traumatic experience.

Some victims are rejected by their family, husband, and friends when they share their experience. Because of this, some women just suffer in silence. Victims of sexual violence need to be supported in every way possible.”