Senegal: 'Violence against women, a major social problem in Senegal'

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – A report by UN Women, published on the occasion of the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fourth World Women Conference of Beijing, has revealed that violence against women and girls is a major social problem in Senegal.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by PANA here, dwelt on female genital mutilation (FGM), women's rights, forced marriages and domestic violence against women and girls.

According to the report, in 2011, 26% of women, aged between 15 and 45, had suffered from FGM, with 70% saying that they had been mutilated before the age of 5.

The data collected revealed some major disparities between the rural and the urban areas, with the percentage surpassing the 90% mark in certain rural areas of the South, the North and the East – in Kédougou, Kolda, Matam and Tambacounda.

The report indicated that 16% of Senegalese women, aged between 25 and 49, said they were married by force despite the Family Code of 1973 that stipulates that the minimum legal age for marriage is 16 years.

It also mentioned a study by the Word Bank in 2006, which indicated that 60% of Senegalese women said they were victims of domestic violence.

It added that an inquiry by the Committee of Struggle against Violence on Women and Children in Senegal has shown that 65% of the violent incidents occur within the family.

The committee also indicated that 58% of the cases are linked to rape, aggression, incest, pedophilia, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation.

The report from the UN Women said that despite their existence, the laws are rarely applied, mentioning the Penal Code of 1999 that integrates measures that punish people who cause violence towards women and girls.

It indicated that gender violence brought to the attention of the authorities does not reflect the reality because of stigma and taboo that surround sexual violence and which prevent the victims from denouncing it.

According to the report, such a situation persists because most women are not aware of the laws that protect them.

PANA reports that there is also a social norm that favours the acceptation of violence from a husband or other members of the family perpetrated on the woman.

“For example, 71% of women from the rural areas and 50% from the urban areas think it is legitimate for a husband to beat his wife if she has neglected her duties, the report observed.

However, the report commended the decline in the number of cases of FGM in Senegal from 28% in 2005 to 26% in 2011, with more than 5,500 saying they had abandoned the practice.

The UN organization underlined the possibility of the victims benefitting from surgery in cases of FGM.

In 2012, the Senegalese Health Ministry, in collaboration with UN Women and other partners, trained and sent seven well-equipped surgeons to a few regions in the country for this job.

In 1995, 189 countries and 4,000 civil society organizations committed to promote gender equality at the fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
-0- PANA KARL/BEH/NA/VAO 8March2015

08 march 2015 15:12:55

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