A recent demographic health survey conducted by The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBOS) has shown increased physical violence against women from 2013 to 2020.
The Gambia 2019-2020 Demographic Health Survey obtained information from unmarried women on their experience of violence committed by anyone and married women on their experience of violence committed by their current and former husbands or partners and by others.
“The percentage of women who have experienced physical violence since age 15 increased from 41% in 2013 to 46% in 2019-2020. However, over the same period, the percentage of women who have experienced physical violence in the last 12 months remained ‘relatively stagnant’ (10% in 2013 and 11% in 2019-2020)” the survey indicated
According to the survey, physical violence against women stood to be more common in the rural parts of the country. “The percentage of women who have experienced physical violence since age 15 is higher in rural areas (47%) than in urban areas, which amounts to (45%).”
Perpetrators of physical violence
The survey reveals that physical violence is marital status connotated. The most commonly reported perpetrators among ever-married women are ‘current husbands and partners.
“Among never-married women who have experienced physical violence since age 15, the most commonly reported perpetrators are ‘mothers, stepmothers (53%), fathers, stepfathers (31%), teachers (27%) and sisters, brothers (25%)” the survey further indicated.
Spousal violence among ever-married women amounts to 39%, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, by their current or most recent husband or partner.
“The most common form of spousal violence is physical violence (29%), followed by emotional (24%) and sexual violence (6%). Spousal violence is more common in Janjanbureh (52%), among women with primary education (46%) and women in the poorest households (45%). Overall, 17% of ever-married women have experienced spousal violence in the 12 months before the survey|” the survey also indicates
Twenty-six percent of women age 15-49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence sought help to stop the violence. Nearly two-thirds of women (65%) never sought help nor told anyone. “The most common sources of help for women who have experienced physical or sexual violence are their own family (66%) or their husband or partner’s family.”
The statistics from the survey also indicated 22% of ever-married women aged 15 to 49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence committed by their current or most recent husband, or partners had sustained injuries.
Meanwhile, the Network against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV) is worried over the alarming statistics.
“I am not surprised by this revelation because I have observed for the past five years from the NGBV data, the Network against GBV is collecting from one-stop centers in hospitals across the regions of The Gambia that there is a constant increase in gender-based violence cases in the country,” said Fallu Sowe National Coordinator Network against Gender-Based Violence.
Sowe said the figures have even increased during the pandemic based on the number of cases they received. The Network against Gender-Based Violence recorded 251 cases of GBV from the one-stop center in hospitals and other service providers during the Covid-19 from March 2020 to February 2021. Among these, 139 are sexual violence cases, and 91 are physical violence cases.
Sowe said NGBV is committed to addressing and doing more awareness-raising of violence against women. “Currently, the Network is strengthening its advocacy awareness creation and support to improve services for survivors in the country in partnership with different actors including the UN Agencies, ActionAid and other members particularly youth and women-led organizations.”