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Disease and Gender-based Violence in sub-Saharan Africa

By Tara Matavata – member of AVA


For many generations the value of females within the African culture has been restricted to or connected to the act of barring children and running the household.

The sub-Saharan region of the continent is well known for its strong grips within the cultural, social and religious beliefs of the prescribed gender roles.


These strong beliefs have led to an increased number of gender-based violence crimes, lack of female education and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. A study conducted by the Stephen Lewis Foundation [2022] showed that the sub-Saharan region has the highest rates of HIV/AIDS transmission. The foundations research brought to light the various discrepancies - it said that “Gender inequalities limit freedom, autonomy, and meaningful access to social and economic opportunities. Inequalities and violence against women and girls are directly linked to rising rates of HIV transmission, particularly among adolescent girls”.


A review published by Africa’s health in 2010 Project funded by USAID’s Africa Bureau, gave focus to the topic of gender-based violence. The review highlighted that the highest rates of GBV were among women of reproductive age with about 25% of women in Malawi having had experienced some form of physical/sexual spousal violence, with higher rates in countries such as Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe who share an estimate of between 35%-45% and the highest rates coming from Uganda 60%.


In a panel discussion on the topic Diana Prieto [2021] said” gender-based violence is a global issue and that implications of a continued lack of state involvement and policies towards domestic violence. Given that an estimated one in three or four women are affected by it”.


Gender based violence is a global issue that affects multiple women not only in the sub-Saharan region but around the world as well, but in this region in particular its connection within the culture and society which has shown a significate relation to the spread of sexual transmitted diseases.





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