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Population Size:

11,947, 373.[1]

Number of People Experiencing Domestic Abuse Each Year:

Reporting in Burundi is low.[2]

23% of women and 6% of men reporting having experienced sexual violence.

48.5% of women reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime [3], while 27.9% reported experiencing such in the last 12 months.[4]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

No research.

Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

COVID-19 is deepening the level of violence against women.[5]

Current Law and Policy:

Burundi is one of the world’s poorest nations and is struggling to emerge from a 12-year ethnic-based civil war. Since 2015, Burundi has been in the midst of a humanitarian and political crisis, with the security services and members of the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party, carrying out widespread human rights abuses. This crisis has heightened the risk of domestic and sexual violence for women in the country with violence against women and girls being accepted as part of everyday life. This is exemplified by the fact that 23% of women reported having experienced sexual violence, while 50% reported having experienced domestic violence. Only a small percentage of these incidents are actually reported, so the actual incidence is likely to be much higher. 

In 2017, specific legislation on the issue was introduced. However, there is little information available on its implementation and effectiveness and there are no further plans for reform. 

In 2013, CEDAW acknowledged that Burundi had taken various practical measures to eliminate domestic abuse. A bill had been drafted on the prevention of, protection from and punishment of gender-based violence, which was in the process of being adopted, and a pilot centre had been established to provide comprehensive support to victims. Burundi had also taken steps towards ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which it has since ratified. A national children’s forum and a women’s forum were in the process of being established and “focal point” judges were appointed in civil courts to monitor cases of gender-based violence. Despite this progress, Burundi was criticised by CEDAW for its lack of a specific law on violence against women.

On 22nd September 2016, Burundi introduced Law N°1/013 on the Prevention and Punishment of Gender-Based Violence.[6] However, despite this Law being introduced, women in Burundi still lack confidence in the judicial system and police services. This is because the police often try to reconcile women with their abusers and remind them of the social consequences of filing a complaint. Rape and sexual assault victims typically do not report crimes at all. Many fear retaliation from the perpetrator and/or negative reactions from their families but, in addition, most simply do not know where to go for help. Rural communities lack any real victim support services and many women are unaware of their rights.