Violence against women in Africa
Although there are now a lot of provisions for the defence of human rights, against gender based violence and sexual violence and Declarations about principle of non-discrimination, in the world and especially in Africa, most of the women still suffer sexual violence, discrimination or some kind of deprivation of rights.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, UNICEF published an article just to remind people how the conditions are for the women of Africa. The statistic speaks for themselves:
- Every five minutes, somewhere in the world, a little girl or a woman dies from violence;
- In the world, almost fifteen million teenagers (15-19 years old) have been forced into a sexual relation or have suffered some other kind of sexual violence during their lifetime;
- Only 1% of sexual abused teenagers ask a specialist for some kind of help;
- In the twenty-eight states where the investigation was made, 90% of the sexually abused teenagers said that the person responsible for the sexual violence was an acquaintance, as a friend, a classmate or a partner;
- Worldwide, one child in four – under five years old – one hundred and seventy-six million in total – lives with a sexual abused mother;
- One little girl in four gets married before eighteen years old;
- Sixty-three million girls have suffered genital mutilation.
It means that the women don’t have legal protection against domestic or sexual violence, against forced married at an early age, against genital mutilation.
For all these reasons it was necessary to have a clear report about the condition of the women in Africa. This first-ever Report “Women’s Rights in Africa” was created by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the UN for the Promotion of Women’s Right.
Through the key words contained in this Report, we can understand approximately which kind of “problems” the African women suffer still now:
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: in 2015, 66% of all maternal deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, there were 22 million unsafe abortions globally. Over 47,000 women and girls died from complications resulting from unsafe abortions. More than 4 in 10 new HIV infections among women are in young women aged 15-24, emphasizing the need for ensuring better access to contraceptive methods to prevent the spread of HIV.
Persons with albinism, in particular women: women and girls with albinism and mothers who give birth to children with albinism are exposed to extreme forms of violence such as the hacking of their limbs while alive. This violence is the result of erroneous beliefs including the myth that sexual intercourse with a woman with albinism can cure HIV/AIDs and that body parts of people with albinism can bring wealth and power if used as part of witchcraft potions.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence: more than 1 in 3 women (36.6%) in Africa report having experienced physical, and/or sexual partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner. Six African countries have no legal protection for women against domestic violence: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Lesotho, Mali and Niger.
Child marriage: child marriage has a disproportionately negative impact on women and girls and is often justified on traditional, religious, cultural or economic grounds. The practice is a violation of the rights of women and girls and is among the underlying and contributory factors for intimate partner sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, as well as denial of girls’ access to education and to vocational and life skills. Only five countries in Africa have an absolute legal prohibition on child marriage.
Female Genital Mutilations: FGM is a form of gender-based discrimination and violence akin to torture. It generates profoundly damaging, irreversible and life-long physical damage. It also increases the risk of neonatal death for babies born to women who have survived it. Statistics by the Demographic and Health Surveys Programme indicate significant reductions of FGM practice in cases where States have enacted and enforced comprehensive criminal sanctions against female genital mutilation.
The report emphasises that also in Africa, as in the rest of the world, when the women exercise their right to education, their right to work, their right to live properly thanks also to a strong health system, they can bring economic and social prosperity, they can have positive results in reaching their life goals, and all the society benefits from this development.
“Human rights are not a utopian fairy-tale – they are a recipe for sound institutions, more sustainable development and greater peace. I commend the African Union’s emphasis on women’s rights during this inspirational African Year of Human Rights, and I look forward to intensifying our promotion of women’s rights across the Continent in years to come. When all women are empowered to make their own choices and share resources, opportunities and decisions as equal partners, every society in Africa will be transformed,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein commenting on the report.
It’s really important right now to be aware of the situation all around the world and to understand deeply how to defend our rights. In fact, we live in a historical period where our human rights, most of the time, are preserved only in a theoretical way and a lot of little kinds of discrimination or abuse are committed every day, especially against women… all women of different countries.
So, the first step is really to be aware that there still exists now “our conditions” – of the developed countries – and “their conditions” – of the third world countries; we have to be aware that still now there are differences between the “women’s conditions” and the “men’s conditions”; we have to be aware that in the world a lot of children are not entitled to childhood.
We have to be aware if we want to change the world.
To know more about the condition of the women in Africa, you can find the Report following this link: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WRGS/WomensRightsinAfrica_singlepages.pdf
By Federica, Italy. February team 2018