Violence against women: despite improvements, persistence

On 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, a 16 day campaign of activism was launched in Guinea-Bissau, composed of several community awareness activities and will end on 10 December - International Human Rights Day.

4 Dec 2017

Violence against women: despite improvements, persistence

This year's theme is "Do not Leave Anyone Back: End Violence Against Women and Girls." As in previous years, the UNITE campaign to end violence against women invites everyone to "Turn the World Orange," using the color of the campaign to symbolize for a better future without violence.

The aim is to alert society to the various cases of violence against women, in particular cases of sexual abuse or harassment, physical and psychological abuse.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most frequent violations of human rights around the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. It is estimated that one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime.

In Guinea-Bissau, according to data from the National Network to Combat Violence, in 2017 alone the organization recorded 244 cases of violence at national level, of which 62 were registered in Bissau and 182 in the regions.

The president of RENLUV, Aissatu Camará Ndjai, defends that, "in order to reverse the situation, it is necessary to focus on raising awareness among communities, because violence often occurs due to a lack of knowledge of the rights of each spouse."

"The country has made significant progress with the adoption in 2011 of the law against female genital mutilation and the reproductive health law, and in 2014 the law against domestic violence. Recently, however, the government has approved two decree-laws that define the system of functioning of shelters (for girls forced to marry), which demonstrates their efforts in combating this phenomenon," said Minister of Women, Family and Social Cohesion.

For the administrative officer of the Association of Friends of Children (AMIC), one of the organizations that welcomes young victims of violence, "in Guinea-Bissau, despite the existence of national laws, conventions and international declarations in favor of women, girls and children, harmful practices continue to have strong roots in the day-to-day lives of Bissau-Guineans, and therefore calls on the national authorities to assume their responsibilities against the violence committed against this segment of the population."

At the AMIC facility in Bissau we found a 17 year old girl waiting for her new destination. "The girl claims to have fled from her home village, Wedekeia, in the Como sector of Tombali, as soon as she learned that she was going to be given in forced marriage to her aunt's old husband, already married to three other women."

On her arrival in Bissau, where she did not know anyone, she went to an officer of the Public Order Police, who housed her in her house and was now ready to send her to the vocational center.

A rare case of courage because, as the legal assistant of a center for access to justice, Ivo de Barros, says "in Guinean society, there is no culture of denunciation."