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A Study of Ivory Coast’s Response to Gender-based Violence

In research carried out in Abidjan and Bouaké in 2014 and 2015, researchers interviewed 21 female survivors of sexual violence and the parents of minors who had been raped. One objective of the research was to understand why some cases were reported to the police and gendarmes while others were not. In the country’s 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, about 5% of girls and women surveyed reported that they had experienced sexual violence. The majority of cases in the country were settled informally. A key finding of the research was that the primary reason women did not disclose rape to the police – even though they overwhelmingly wanted the rapist arrested and prosecuted by the state – was because they did not want people to know they had been raped. They worried that they would not receive support from their community and would instead be mocked, gossiped about, stigmatised, and ostracised. The women feared that their relatives would blame them for the assault and that people in their community would subject them to ridicule.