Gender-based violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gender-based violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gender-based violence in Sub-Saharan Africa is a large issue that has not yet been adequately addressed. According to the UN, women in sub-Saharan Africa are at greater risk of intimate partner violence than in most other regions of the world.

The rates of intimate partner violence in sub-Saharan Africa (22%) were above the global average, and fewer than 65% of countries in the region have laws specifically criminalizing domestic violence (United Nations 2020). A different study showed that more than two-fifths (44%) of women aged 15–49 years of age in Sub-Saharan countries experienced some form of intimate partner violence and almost a fifth (14%) experienced non-intimate partner violence (Muluneh et al. 2020, 12).

All three types of intimate partner violence (physical, sexual and emotional violence) are common in the region, but emotional violence is the most prevalent of the three (Muluneh et al. 2020, 13). Regardless of which statistic is the correct one, whether that is 22% or 44%, data shows that gender-based violence is a prevailing issue affecting women in the region, particularly in intimate relationships.

There are certain factors that serve as predictors of which groups of women are more vulnerable to gender-based violence. In Sub-Saharan Africa, educational status is one of the factors that stands out the most. Data shows that women with lower levels of education are more likely to experience gender-based violence (Akamike et al. 2019, 2). Younger women, married women, and women in families with low socioeconomic status (Akamike et al. 2019, 3) are also more likely to experience it when compared to older women, non-married women, and women of higher socioeconomic status, respectively.

These statistics highlight which populations are more at risk of facing gender-based violence and thus towards which groups more action should be directed. Most importantly, the data reinforces yet another way in which improving access to education can empower women, as it may help reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence against women.

Further Reading:

Muluneh, Muluken Dessalegn, Virginia Stulz, Lyn Francis, and Kingsley Agho. 2020. “Gender Based Violence against Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cross-Sectional Studies.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (3).

Akamike, Ifeyinwa C, Chigozie J Uneke, Henry C Uro-Chukwu, Ijeoma N Okedo-Alex, and Onyedikachi E Chukwu. 2019. “Predictors and Facilitators of Gender-Based Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Rapid Review.” Journal of Global Health Reports 3: e2019076.

United Nations. “World's Women 2020: Sub-Saharan Africa.” World's Women 2020. United Nations, 2020.

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