Victim Friendly System – Mid term Evaluation

Om publikasjonen

  • Utgitt: september 2014
  • Serie: --
  • Type: Gjennomganger fra organisasjoner
  • Utført av: Jimat
  • Bestilt av: Save the Children/Redd Barna
  • Land: Zimbabwe
  • Tema: Barn
  • Antall sider: 66
  • Serienummer: --
  • ISBN: --
  • ISSN: --
  • Organisasjon: Save the Children
  • Lokal partner: Judicial Service Commission
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The Victim Friendly System in Zimbabwe commenced in the 1990s. This has been documented by those who worked in pioneering the development of the system. The concept of the Victim Friendly Court System in Zimbabwe was a simultaneous development initiated by the Government, women and children’s rights activists in the early 1990’s.

However, during that time things were somehow disjointed as there was no proper coordination , in 1992, the vulnerable witness committee was set up by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The committee which comprised magistrates, prosecutors, and police officers was tasked to investigate problems faced by vulnerable witnesses in the Criminal Justice System in Zimbabwe.

Purpose/objective (including evaluation questions)     

The specific objectives of this Endline study was to:

  1. assess the extent to which the project has achieved its expected results (i.e. key milestones, outcomes and impacts in the short to medium term);
  2. assess the cost and efficiency (in terms of value for money) of service provision through the VFS per child survivor, examining the added value of each technical and funding partner as well as exploring the most effective approach (whether cooperation or specialization) that will give the best/optimal use of position, skills and resources;   
  3. identified the strengths, gaps, challenges and risks involved in this project taking special consideration of the likelihood and controls/measures (where relevant) to mitigate them.
  4. assess the impact on how victims are dealt with in Zimbabwe and how they have recovered changed (have attitudes towards them and how they are treated at the community level, among professionals changed and how the children look at themselves and recover; and
  5. identify existing systems and structures that promote programme sustainability and exploring opportunities to strengthen the coordination of the Victim Friendly System
  6. draw lessons learnt and recommendations to strengthen project activities including specific areas of comparative advantage for Save the Children and other priorities that could be recommended for development partners to complement.


The evaluation adopted a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to address the objectives of the study. Using appropriate tools of data collection, several sources of data were utilised and these included: (i) key informant interviews; (ii) Focus Group Discussions; (iii) in depth case study interviews; (iv) observation of court proceedings and VFS sub-committee meetings; and (v) literature review.

Literature review
At inception several documents were reviewed that included the following: Save the Children strategic plans from 1997 to the period 2010-2014; Evaluation of the Save the Children Norway’s programme on reducing child sexual abuse; and annual reports of Save the Children Norway.

During the evaluation several documents were reviewed including: (i) minutes/quarterly reports of the National VFS committee; multi-sectoral protocol on the management of sexual abuse and violence in Zimbabwe; programme reviews of other civil society organisations; studies within the system and other documents that may be identified during the consultations. Data was also extracted from the JSC, VFU and MoPSE databases, and from court records in the regional courts that were visited.

Key findings   

The Victim Friendly System has been a success. It demonstrates milestones that can be achieved between government civil society partnerships. Although there are still challenges mainly due to capacity gaps in government, the foundation and structural framework for the system is strong. Government ownership and leadership with consistent development partner support has enabled the establishment of the system. As a result, children are better protected at this point than they were in 1997 as more children are reporting sexual abuse cases and receiving fairer trials. The success of the VFS including ability to use information on child sexual abuse has raised national interest in the issue and provided a national response in the revision of legislation and policy to better protect children from and support child survivors of sexual abuse. 

While the VFS has been, in general, a success there are still challenges and the programme has not been able to fully meet its intended results. Results that still lag behind include support and integration of child survivors of sexual abuse back in the community; and data management for monitoring of the system and lobbying and advocacy. Issues that need to be addressed to ensure the system works better for children include: 

  • limited government financing of the VFS limiting sustainability of the initiative beyond development partner support;
  • lack of a clear and shared exit strategy for government to fully support the system; • linkage between the VFS and the broader child protection system to ensure the continuum of care from pre-trial to post trial is provided to every child entering the system; and
  • sharing of information between stakeholders to reduce children who enter the system to drop out.

The need to address these issues is urgent as sexual violence for children (girls and boys) and women is increasing. A recent study, the National Baseline Survey on the Life Experiences of Adolescents (NBSLEA) in 2012, showed that a third of girls (32.5%) and 1 in 10 boys (8.9%) aged 18-24 had experienced sexual violence in childhood. Nearly 1 in 10 girls compared to less than 1% of boys experienced physically forced sex (rape) prior to age 18. In the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey of 2010-2011 at least 27% of women reported to have experienced sexual violence at some point during their lives.  


Strengthen national commitments (Strategic Plan for the VFS) Develop a national strategy or policy that is multi-faceted and systematic.  The protocol provides the implementation framework for the Strategy or Policy but what are the Government Commitments that ensure that each stakeholders is operating within an agreed frame and facilitating the attained of agreed country goals.

  • JSC to issue out a green paper to enable in-depth discussion on the issue of commitments and a finalized white paper
  • National strategy, national plans or a national policy around the VFS led by a secretariat
  • Multi-sectoral planning rather than sector silo based planning

Strengthen Stakeholder capacity (professional and non-professionals)

This should be two pronged – pre-service and in-service aimed at ensuring highly functional staff and high quality services for children. The Government should invest in systematic education and training programme both for professional and non-professionals that is standardised

Build confidence in the Judicial System

Build trust in the services and make people aware of where to get help through creation of accessible and child friendly reporting systems and services  -  i.) establish safe, ii.) well published, iii.) confidential  and iv.) accessible mechanism for reporting and receiving feedback. This may include using social media as reporting platforms.

Secondly support for civil society to support accountability of the system by strengthening community civil society linkages to ensure all cases go through the system.

Improve data management
There is need to strengthen use of evidence from the VFC data to inform policy and programming and track progress towards the goal of preventing violence and abuse.

JSC with stakeholders might develop one reporting system for stakeholders both Government and complementing NGOs in the VFS based on one monitoring and evaluation framework:

  • agree indicators, and results (outputs, outcomes and impact as stated in the agreed strategy
  • compile cross sectoral data that is shared amongst stakeholders, analysed and disseminated to monitor progress and inform programming

Legislation Review Process

  • Legislative provisions and national priorities need to aligned to the new Constitution. Align all Acts to the new provisions set in the Constitution
  • Children’s Act
  • Criminal Procedure and Evidence Ammendment Act
  • Marriage Act
  • Domestic Violence Act 2006
  • Births and registration Act.

Improve child and community participation
The evaluation noted that child participation was non-existent in the VFS from national to regional court levels. It is therefore recommended that stakeholders put in place mechanisms to increase the voice of children in the planning and implementation of the VFS. 

Community participation is also weak with community representatives not participating or aware of the existence of VFS subcommittees. There is need to raise awareness among the VFS subcommittees of the need to include children and community representatives. However, the likely barrier to this would the unavailability of resources to finance transport for community representatives and children to participate as these meetings were not funded at the time of the evaluation. This is a barrier stakeholders need to resolve. 


Publisert 15.07.2015
Sist oppdatert 15.07.2015