Total population: 32.2 million
Internet penetration rate: 6.7 million users
State bodies tasked with tackling GBV: Department of Assistance to Family and Minor Victims of Violence | Department of Gender, Child, and Social Action | National Directorate of Women | National Council for the Advancement of Women
A portal to enable and empower
A portal to enable and empower
Overview of GBV in Mozambique
It is estimated that one in four women in Mozambique experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, and one in two girls marries before the age of 18. In recent years, extreme weather conditions, increased economic instability, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, have compounded the lived realities of women and girls in Mozambique.
The pandemic represents a burden on a system that is already struggling to respond to pre-existing humanitarian needs and protection concerns resulting from the impact of climate shocks, insecurity and armed conflict. Women are reportedly walking long distances to access food, water, and services in Mozambique, exposing them to protection risks, particularly sexual and gender-based violence. In addition to these challenging circumstances, persistent conflict in a part of Mozambique continues to put the safety and dignity of women and children at risk.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), attacks by non-state armed groups expanded geographically and increased in intensity in 2020, significantly heightening protection risks, especially for women and girls, people with disabilities, older persons and people living with HIV/AIDS.
While the government still has much to do, there are some noteworthy efforts that suggest there may be potential to protect and promote the rights of women and children in Mozambique. For example, Rapariga Biz is a government-led, joint UN programme that aims to reduce early marriages and teenage pregnancy in Nampula and Zambezia provinces. Among other interventions, the programme trains young women to counsel their peers on sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as essential life skills. Medicus Mundi is another key intervention that seeks to contribute to the defence, guarantee, and exercise of a life free from violence against women in Maputo. This two-year intervention (2020-2022) is a continuation of a 2017-2019 programme, funded by the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation. The main objective of this project has been to build a fairer, more equitable and inclusive society that respects the human rights of women in Maputo city. In the last two years, different actions were promoted to make GBV a political and social priority in Maputo. In addition to these interventions, there has been welcome progress in terms of law reform.
However, civil society organisations have noted with concern the escalation of gender-based violence both in frequency and severity despite law reform initiatives, GBV remains under-reported in Mozambique. A notable advocacy campaign during the pandemic was the use of megaphones by women activists who marched the streets and encouraged women and girls to report violence.
Holding those in power to account
Holding those in power to account
Laws, policies, and resources on GBV in Mozambique
The Constitution establishes gender equality in all areas of society and prohibits all legislative, political, cultural, economic, and social discrimination.
The Human Dignity Trust explains that recent amendments to the Penal Code have allowed for greater gender neutrality, the adoption of a broader definition of r*pe, the establishment of new and more appropriate contextual factors and punishments for r*pe and sexual violence against children, and the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults. It further provides for the decriminalisation of voluntary termination of pregnancy, the recognition of unsafe abortion as a public health problem and the penalization of intercourse with the conscious transmission of disease.
The law seeks to address domestic violence against women within ‘family relations’. In the Mozambican context, intra-family sexual assault is a common issue, but is seemingly underreported. Reports suggest that families opt to settle cases of abuse privately or through community-led mechanisms rather than through the judicial system.
This Act aims to promote and protect the rights of the child, as defined in the Constitution, and in terms of international and regional human rights law.
- Gender Policy and its Strategy for Implementation:
This Policy upholds the vision of guaranteeing gender-equal participation, access to rights, and opportunities so that every person can contribute to the development of and reduction of absolute poverty in Mozambique.
- National Action Plan for Responding to Gender-Based Violence in the Health Sector 2019 to 2022:
This Action Plan is based on the idea that GBV constitutes a medical emergency, requiring preventive actions and improvements in the service provided to victims.
There are limited developments in this regard, save for reported revisions to the Penal Code that relate to privacy, prohibiting the interception, recording, transmission or disclosure of online communications, including email, messages, audio-visual and social media content without consent and apparent intentions to enact cybersecurity and data protection law.
The Ophenta Association:
Mozambican Association for Family Development (AMODEFA):
- Tel: +258 21 405 107
- E-mail: n/a
- Website: n/a
Despite the limited available resources regarding reports of GBV during the pandemic, the responses and initiatives listed below suggest that GBV during the pandemic was an issue.
- The Ministries of Interior and Health, partnering with telecommunications companies, enabled access to helplines that operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These hotlines were set to facilitate safe reporting for victims and survivors of GBV.
- The Spotlight Initiative, a pre-COVID initiative, was expanded and implemented in three provinces, in the priority areas of combating sexual and gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls during the pandemic. The Spotlight Initiative is led by the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Action (MGCAS). To continue providing support during the pandemic, the Spotlight Initiative adapted and redirected portions of its budget to ensure that public institutions could provide the requisite support services. Budget allocations were made towards equipping government teams in the health, social action, police, and justice sectors with personal protective equipment and hygiene materials, as well as providing mobile phones, vehicles and mobile clinics to public institutions. In addition, several mobile clinics were deployed to provide GBV, sexual reproductive health and basic health services as well as information and referrals to rural areas.
- InfoViolência, a digital tool, was developed to support the collection, capturing, management, and analysis of GBV reports. A full pilot of the database was launched in December 2020, during the pandemic.
- In ordinary times, Rapariga Biz mentors led weekly sessions in safe spaces, but the programme has adapted during the pandemic with sessions being conducted telephonically or in one-on-one setups.
- Non-government responses amplified and continued to provide support during the pandemic, for example existing hotlines and free SMS services such as Linha Fala Criança (a child helpline), Linha Verde (an emergency hotline) and SMS Biz Mozambique (a free SMS platform) remained accessible during the pandemic.
In April 2020, Mozambique declared a State of Emergency, which was extended for several months, and subsequently reduced to a Situation of Public Calamity in September 2020. Curfews, restrictions to accessing public spaces, and mandates for the wearing of face masks were some of the key measures implemented to curb the spread of the virus. During the State of Emergency, Mozambique went into lockdown, with residents urged to stay home, except for essential reasons. While there is limited reporting, it appears that the restrictions contributed to the higher rate of GBV:
- In 2020, UN Women along with other key stakeholders conducted a COVID-19 rapid gender assessment in Mozambique, finding that 1 in 4 women in the 18-34 years (44%) and 35-54 years (41%) age brackets felt that GBV had become more of a problem since the onset of COVID-19. Notably, during the assessment, a third of the respondents (of which there 2464) were willing to disclose personally know at least one victim and survivor of GBV during COVID-19, illustrating the frequency of GBV during the pandemic.
- In February 2021, Amnesty International reported that in Mozambique, civil society organizations received unusually high numbers of domestic violence cases after the start of the state of emergency in March 2020.