CAR: Increase in Sexual Violence Recorded

CAR sexual Violence

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has declared sexual violence a public health emergency in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Development Diaries reports that MSF recorded the treatment of more than 19,500 survivors of sexual violence in the country between 2018 and 2022, indicating an increase in cases during the period.

In its recent report, Invisible Wounds: MSF’s findings on sexual violence in CAR between 2018 and 2022, MSF noted that the number of people it treated in 2022 for sexual violence tripled compared to the number treated in 2018.

The report also noted that in the same period, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency (UNFPA) documented 14,907 other cases of sexual violence in CAR, as reported by other humanitarian organisations working in the country or by state structures.

Furthermore, it revealed that while an increasing number of survivors of sexual violence (95 percent of whom are women) have had access to assistance over the last five years, many gaps in treatment remain.

‘Sexual violence in CAR is a taboo public health emergency and cannot be solely addressed as an armed conflict-related problem’, MSF Country Director in CAR, Khaled Fekih, said.

Despite current laws and policies on the matter, gender-based violence (GBV) – including rape, early marriage, physical and psychological abuse, and female genital mutilation – is reinforced in CAR by sociocultural norms that harm women and girls.

According to GBV Information Management System (GBVIMS), two people become victims of GBV in CAR every hour.

It is understood that 5,928 cases were reported during the first four months of 2023, and 23,644 GBV cases were recorded in 2022, an increase of 104 percent compared to the number of cases recorded in 2021.

It is also understood that many survivors of sexual violence do not report their cases and do not seek treatment, and they face acute stigmatisation and other significant obstacles to continuing normal life in their community, while very few perpetrators are convicted because of flagrant impunity.

To combat this scourge, a combination of short-term and long-term measures must be implemented.

Development Diaries calls on the government of CAR to strengthen law enforcement, ensure accountability for perpetrators, and provide maximum support for survivors to remedy the escalating situation in the country.

Additionally, raising awareness about the consequences of sexual violence and promoting gender equality is essential to changing cultural attitudes and reducing the prevalence of such acts.

Photo source: MSF


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