The facility is surrounded by Bor’s other state health facilities. A hospital, outpatient clinic and maternity clinic anchor the walled-in compound. The new SGBV center provides survivors immediate psyco-social, medical and legal support in a setting where it looks like they could be seeking medical services for any other common malady.
IMA staff joined community health workers to engage police as a partner in the problem, helping them to understand some of the challenges women face to seeking help, such as charging for filing a report. And, together, we’ve worked with police to create a special protection unit, which aims to keep survivors safe outside of the health facility.
“They come here and they haven’t shared their stories of abuse with anyone," IMA World Health SGBV officer Chandia Martin says. “So they are usually very tired once they tell us what’s going on. We can provide them a place to rest until dark but then they have to go somewhere else.
There is a lot of effort put in to determining if the person we’re treating is able to leave here and be safe at home.”
It is in this effort where the tidiness of the new four-room SGBV clinic meets the messiness of real life. In most anywhere else in the world, one might think sending a woman home to return to her abusive husband unconscionable. Yet in a country that has the among world’s highest maternal mortality rates and the highest rate of female illiteracy of anywhere in the world, the choices aren’t so clear - especially for women.
Rebecca thumbs a red and green rubber bracelet printed with MERRY CHRISTMAS as she tells me about her family. The bracelet is a gift from her daughter, which brings a smile to her face even though she may not seem to have much to smile about. Rebecca described for me the debilitating poverty she and her family endure. She wears a dress given to her by a missionary that is so worn thin daylight easily streams through its floral pattern. She wears pink sandals held together by tape that were given to her by a woman for whom she collects water, to try and earn a few pounds.