Alcohol abuse is fueling rampant violence against women and unless leaders take action, gender equality will never happen says a local NGO.
“It is impossible to picture gender equality and empowered women if women are beaten and continue to be sexually abused,” says IOGT-NTO regional representative Johan Sundqvist, “it breaks my heart to say so.”
Today is International Women’s Day and this years’ theme is Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity.
Sundqvist says research conducted by IOGT-NTO, a Swedish NGO advocating temperance with a regional office in Dar es Salaam, shows that alcohol is a major risk factor for gender-based violence and consequently a tremendous obstacle for women empowerment and freedom.
The research shows one third of women across East Africa have been violated by a man who had used alcohol. A quarter of women reported they had been beaten by a man who had used alcohol. One in six women in East Africa say they have been forced to have sex against their will by intoxicated men.
The study figures also reveal that children as young as 10-13 report being sexually abused my men under the influence of alcohol.
“Behind the facts and figures in our study, there is real suffering and pain. Seen with the eyes of women and girls, East Africa does have an alcohol problem.”
Sundqvist says a key component is banning “outrageous alcohol advertising that objectifies, dehumanizes and sexualizes women. We need to implement and enforce alcohol control laws that limit the availability and affordability of alcohol and that promote health and development.”
According to WHO data, the heaviest drinking country in East Africa is Uganda, followed by Rwanda 22, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania 18.4.