In Benin, 7 out of 10 women say they have been subjected to violence at least once in their lives. Despite the high rate of gender-based violence, very few women come forward to denounce their aggressors or ask for help – either out of fear of reprisals, lack of trust or access to the justice system, or due to a lack of knowledge of available services and their rights.

Among the gateways to these services are health centers. However, a lack of coordination between the different players in the network results in the invisibilization of violence and limits women’s access to the services to which they are entitled.

For example, not all health clinics systematically document cases of gender-based violence that require medical attention: even though healthcare providers record the type of care delivered, they do not always specify the causes or even future referral needs. This results in the invisibilization of violence and limits the possibility of referrals within a network of resources from which the women could benefit. It is also difficult to have a clear picture of the situation (number of reported cases of GBV) and to provide sustainable solutions.

Better coordination between services and community actors

This is about to change with the support of PASSRELLE, a four-year project to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of 100,000 young women. Since 2019, PASSRELLE has supported the creation of two departmental and five communal consultation frameworks that bring together health, social, education, justice, and community actors. In addition to facilitating the sharing of information between the different types of stakeholders, these frameworks have enabled the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) specific to each commune for the management, referral and follow-up of GBV cases.

These management tools will also promote collaboration between key players who intervene in this area, such as the Republican police, communal authorities, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance and the community, as described by one of the religious leaders of the commune of Athieme in the following video.