UNICEF correspondent Eva Gilliam reports on the increased violence against girls and women in Côte d'Ivoire.
Tags:Reducing Gender-Based Violence in Ivory Coast,gender violence in Ivory Coast,Ivory Coast social violence,unicef,united nations childrens fund,violence against women in Ivory Coast
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Reducing Gender-Based Violence in Ivory Coast
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Eva Gilliam: While Ivory Coast is steadily working towards sustainable peace, many children continue to be victims of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. 25% of girls and women between the ages of 10 and 49 have been victims of sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of reported and assisted cases of such violence increased by 149% in UNICEF intervention areas.
Laeticia Bazzi: As a result of the political and social conflict, a cultural violence has developed, which is worsened by a weak implementation of the law. And here we have a six-year-old girl, Marie, she was raped and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Marie: I was five years old. I was with my friend and we went to go eat at the canteen. When I was on my way back home, a man caught me on the road. My friend left and the man said he would give me 100 francs to lay down. I lay down. He hit me. He said if I screamed, he would kill me.
Eva Gilliam: Marie’s parents were fortunately aware of the lifesaving steps to take when confronted with the rape of their daughter. The provision by UNICEF and partners of access to medical and psychosocial care through the development of referral pathways has improved.
Madame Fadiga: After the victim has been seen by the doctor and other health works, we go to her and listen to her. We let her speak. It is very, very important.
Eva Gilliam: Community mobilization and sensitization campaigns urging individuals to speak out against sexual violence of all forms have increased the number of people reporting cases to authorities.
Madame Fadiga: It’s becoming less and less of a taboo and the victims themselves are no longer rejected and do not feel so alone anymore. It is talked about and there are families who go to the appropriate establishments to denounce what has happened.
Eva Gilliam: Despite the redeployment of the magistrates and lawyers in their working areas of origin completed earlier this year, Law enforcement is still weak and perpetrators of sexual violence and Female Genital Mutilation are too rarely denounced or taken to trial.
Maarit Hirvonen: These are very difficult issues and any improvement that we can make takes a lot of work and a lot of time. We are working here in UNICEF with the communities, with social workers and trying to change behavior, attitude, and reinforce the application of the law. We work with legislators and judiciary.
Eva Gilliam: As Ivory Coast continues to move forward in restoring law and order, there is hope that the country’s children will be able to live and play without fear of violence.
This is Eva Gilliam in Bouake, Ivory Coast. Unite for Children.