Out of every 10 women in eastern and central Africa, more than four are assaulted by intimate partners, new research showed, adding that women in sub-Saharan African countries were generally the worst off globally.
At least 44% of the women in central Africa and 38% in eastern Africa aged 15 to 49 years will have been physically or sexually abused by their intimate partners, an analysis led by researchers from McGill University and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
The DR Congo led with 47%; Uganda at 45%, followed by South Sudan (41%). Burundi (40%), Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda (38%) and Ethiopia at 37%.
Scientists that described violence against women as a global public health problem said the act negatively affected the physical and mental health of women and their children, caused injuries, depression, anxiety, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections, and led to death in some instances.
WHO said governments are not on track to meet global targets to eliminate violence against women and girls. “While the numbers are alarming, the true scale of violence is likely even higher,” researchers said. They added that “the studies were based on self-reported experiences. Given the stigmatised nature of the issue, women can be hesitant to report their experiences.”
According to the researchers, the problem was likely exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. They said there is an urgent need to strengthen the public health response to intimate partner violence.