Most citizens see domestic violence as a criminal matter rather than a private matter to be resolved within the family.
- Gender-based violence (GBV) tops the list of the most important women's-rights issues that Seychellois think their government and society must address.
- A majority (60%) of citizens say violence against women and girls is "not very common" or "not at all common" in their community, but 28% disagree with that assessment.
- More than nine in 10 Seychellois (91%) say it is "never" justified for a man to physically discipline his wife.
- One-quarter (25%) of respondents consider it likely that a woman will be criticised or harassed if she reports GBV to the authorities, while 63% say this is unlikely. o Most citizens (72%) say the police are likely to take cases of GBV seriously.
- Seychellois overwhelmingly (82%) say domestic violence should be treated as a criminal matter rather than as a private matter to be resolved within the family.
According to the 2016 Seychelles Gender-Based Violence National Baseline Study, about four in 10 Seychellois women have experienced physical violence by intimate partners, and more than one in four have suffered sexual violence (Gender Secretariat, 2016; Seychelles Nation, 2016). The study found that women are also disproportionately affected by psychological and economic forms of gender-based violence (GBV). A study by the Commonwealth Secretariat (2019) estimated that violence against women and girls costs Seychelles 1.2% of its gross domestic product.
The government's measures against GBV have ranged from ratification of key international human-rights treaties to GBV-focused training for legislators to 16 Days of Activism and other campaigns (Nicette, 2022; Joubert-Lawen, 2022; National Assembly of Seychelles, 2022). A Domestic Violence Act passed in 2020 outlaws sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse and strengthens the role of the police, the judiciary, and medical personnel in ensuring that victims of GBV do not retract their complaints (Seychelles Nation, 2020).
Yet weaknesses remain. In its 2020 human-rights report, the U.S. State Department (2020) listed a lack of accountability for GBV among Seychelles' most significant human-rights issues, saying the government failed to prioritise domestic violence cases and to enforce relevant laws effectively.
This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans' perceptions of gender-based violence.
In Seychelles, citizens say that gender-based violence is the most important women's-rights issue that the government and the country must address. Most citizens oppose the use of physical force against women, consider GBV a criminal matter, and believe that the police take GBV cases seriously.
Anne Okello Anne is the assistant surveys manager for east Africa