Hundreds of women in Ivory Coast took to the streets of Abidjan on Saturday to protest a surge of violence against women, in a country where 800 women reported rapes in 2020.
The movement, dubbed “Offensive Orange”, saw more than 2,000 women march against rape in the Ivorian economic capital, calling it “a weapon of mass destruction with side effects spanning many lives and generations”. Dressed in orange T-shirts, the demonstrators marched through the bustling Treichville district brandishing placards emblazoned with slogans that included “Rape is a crime, oppose it” and “Zero rape in my country”.
“Time up for rapists!” said the Ivorian women’s minister Nasseneba Toure, who was flanked at the front of the march by the EU’s ambassador to Ivory Coast and a UN women’s representative. Statistics presented by Toure showed that there were 625 rapes between January and October 2021, while 822 were reported in 2020 compared to 693 the year before.
Nearly 2,500 cases of violence against women were recorded in 2019 and 2020 in Abidjan alone, according to a study by an NGO published last month. It revealed that 1,290 forced marriages of girls under 18 and 1,121 rapes were recorded in 2019 and 2020 in the city, where there were also 416 femicides over the same period. The study only surveyed the city of five million, Ivory Coast’s largest, and did not tackle the situation in the rest of the country