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Garowe town, with a population of about 65,000 inhabitants, is the administrative capital of the autonomous Puntland region in north-eastern Somalia
With about 10,000 patients accessing Garowe General hospital every year, the health facility is the main referral public hospital in the region. Built in the 1970s, Garowe hospital
has a medical, surgical, paediatric and maternity ward.
25-year-old Suad Mohamed Sama is one of the few psychologists in Somalia. She works at the Maato Kaal Center, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre run by the
NGO Muslim Aid, located within the premises of the Garowe Hospital. The Centre focuses on gender based violence issues and supports the most vulnerable groups.
Every month, the ‘Maato-Kaal’ Centre provides support to 25-30 survivors of domestic violence, rape and physical assault as well as victims of severe forms of female genital mutilation
and cutting. “As a psychosocial counsellor, I provide them with psychotherapy services such as having dialogues with survivors,” explains Suad.
I wanted to study medicine as I saw the huge needs we have in our society,” Suad says. “The profession I am doing is very rare here. Especially young girls and mothers face so many
challenges. I felt the need to help,” she continues.
“Some of the main challenges I face to carry out my work are shame and fear,“ states Suad. “The victims or survivors don’t want to tell exactly what has happened. People in this region also believe that women in this area cannot achieve much in life. “We still have a long way to go. Survivors of sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence endure stigma, trauma and other health consequences. Many have nowhere to turn for support, and abusers frequently escape punishment. But with more awareness, changing attitudes towards sexual violence, and encouraging people to refer these crimes to the health and justice systems, we can bring change, little by little,” Suad concludes.
*Article taken from WHO. http://www.who.int/workforcealliance/media/photos/photo-story-garowe_som/en/