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According to a 2021 report on gender-based violence (GBV) in Mali, 38% of cases involve sexual violence. Twenty-three percent involved rape. This violence almost always against women, either within or outside of couples.

Domestic violence is the result of behaviour, actions, and attitudes of one of the partners or ex-partners. These actions are intended to control, coerce, or dominate the other.

Domestic violence is a type of gender-based violence and involves verbal, physical, sexual, and economic assaults, threats, or coercion. It also affects the parents and relatives of the victim and the perpetrator, especially the children.

From a legal perspective, domestic violence is a crime. But, due to socio-cultural constraints in Mali, victims do not initiate criminal proceedings against the perpetrators of these crimes. Several Malian associations and NGOs are now mobilizing for a vote on a law on gender-based violence.

This radio script will help you understand the causes of domestic violence and its consequences for the  survivor and other family members. It is based on actual interviews with three individuals: a survivor of domestic violence, a lawyer specializing in gender-based violence, and a staff member of an NGO.

To produce this script on your station, you can choose to use voice actors to play the role of the resource persons. In this case, be sure to inform your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices used are those of actors, not the original interviewees.

Similarly, you can build on this script to investigate a similar topic in your area and write your own script. For example, you might ask your interviewees the following questions:

  • What is domestic violence?
  • What causes domestic violence?
  • How does domestic violence manifest itself?
  • What are the consequences of domestic violence and how can survivors be assisted?

Estimated duration of the radio script with music, intro and extro: 30 minutes.


Hello dear listeners, welcome to our program.

Today, with our guests, we will talk about domestic violence, a form of gender-based violence, also referred to as GBV. They will talk about the causes and consequences of domestic violence, as well as the measures taken by organizations and individuals to address it. They will also discuss the actions taken by associations and NGOs to overcome the barriers to implementing of laws against this type of violence.

We will talk to three resource persons. The first, Ms. Aminata Traoré, is a survivor of domestic violence and a private school teacher in Djoro, in the Segou region. She will explain how she survived this violence.

Then we will talk to Ms. Mariam Traoré, a lawyer and specialist on domestic violence. She will share her experience and the methods used to help women survivors. Finally, we will welcome Mr. Ségné Sangaré. He is a psychologist, a health advisor and a member of the association of psychologists of Mali. He will talk about the same topic but from the angle of the psychological impact of domestic violence on women and children.

Welcome, Ms. Aminata Traoré!

Thank you for having me.

As a survivor of domestic violence, tell us what it was like for you.

I knew my ex-husband almost twenty years ago. At that time, we were students. I married him without the consent of my parents, who found him very ill-mannered. From the very beginning, he was jealous when I talked to other men, including my friends. He would not speak to me for several days. The situation got worse when we married. To show his displeasure, he would whip me with his belt. I couldn’t raise my voice when he spoke, otherwise he would hit me. It was more complicated when he lost his job. I had to put up with it because I had given birth to a boy who was five years old at the time. But I couldn’t talk about it with my family, as they were already opposed to our marriage.

One day he hit me with a small wooden chair that was lying around the house. I had blood everywhere and wounds on my head. But despite my injuries, he wouldn’t let me sleep without satisfying his sexual desire. I felt that seeing me cry turned him on. I had two miscarriages because of this abuse. I hoped he would change, but it was getting worse.

A few years later, I got pregnant with my daughter. But the situation didn’t get any better, on the contrary. For years, I suffered all kinds of domestic violence with my husband. He did not financially support me. With my salary as a teacher, I was compelled to pay for medication and food for my children and him. In short, I played the role that the law of marriage in Mali confers on him. It stipulates that the man must feed and protect his wife.

During this time, he did not try to work. And when I could not bear the burdens, he physically abused me and insulted me. The sexual, verbal, and physical abuse that I endured broke my mental health and left me in a state of stress, depression, anger, and hatred towards men in general.

Why did you endure this suffering for so long?

I blamed myself in part because of my family’s warnings about my ex-husband. So, I couldn’t complain to my parents. Also, in Mali, it is not easy for a woman to leave a violent husband, especially with the weight of the culture that recommends that women be patient and endure.

How did your children experience this period?

Before the divorce, my 16-year-old son felt responsible for me. He would stand between his father and me, trying to stop him from abusing me. This scared me because my son was capable of assaulting his father to protect me, even though it is strictly forbidden in our society. With tears in my eyes, I kept telling him to let his father hit me. My daughter would cry and go into the bedroom. At school, my son would attack his friends. He was always angry about the smallest things, and my daughter was constantly afraid.

How were you able to get a divorce?

As we often say, enough is enough. Eventually, he started sleeping with my housekeepers and our neighbours’ daughters. When I asked him to stop, he slapped me and hit me with a stick until he broke my hand. In that moment, I took all my belongings and went to my parents’ house. It was then that I decided to break up with him because I hated him. I spoke about it to friends, who advised me to contact associations for the defense of women victims of violence to file a complaint and ask for a divorce. It was not easy because I didn’t know the procedures to follow in court. But with the help of NGOs like WiLDAF and my friends, I managed to get a divorce. I am now living at my parents’ house with my children, waiting to find a place of my own.

What advice do you have for women?

I would like to tell women that all people are equal before the law and that no one has the right to harm another. One marries to be happy, not to be a slave to one’s spouse. When a woman loses her life, her children are the first to suffer. You have to make a decision before it’s too late. I was lucky enough to get out of it. But how many women have died? Make a decision fast, or you may be the next victim.

Thank you, Aminata Traoré. Let’s hear now from Ms. Mariam Traoré, a lawyer and specialist on domestic violence for WiLDAF. WiLDAF Mali is a network of about twenty associations and fifty individual members. It aims to protect and promote the rights of women and children.

Thank you for accepting our invitation. So Mariam, what is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a set of behaviours, actions, and attitudes of a partner or ex-partner that aims to control and dominate the other. This violence can take the form of verbal, physical, sexual, or economic threats or coercion of the other partner.

What is the situation with this type of violence in Mali?

In Mali, as everywhere else, domestic violence continues to be a matter of concern. We live in a very patriarchal society. The husband is seen as the head of the household. The burden of the household falls mainly on him. As for the wife, she is expected to obey her husband. This power imbalance often leads to domestic violence.

For example, we have noticed that some women find it difficult to pursue their studies or professional careers after marriage because of their husbands’ opposition. According to statistics, one out of every two women aged 15 to 49 in Mali has experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence at least once in her life. The same proportion of women also face emotional or physical violence during a break-up.

Unfortunately, the social context often compels the woman to put up with and even forgive her partner for this violence. Those who leave their homes are stigmatized by society. But violence, the suffering imposed on the other spouse, destroys the harmony of marital life and seals the fate of the couple’s children.

Human rights organizations in Mali denounce domestic violence in all its forms. But despite repeated calls for reform, little progress is being made in addressing this type of violence in a systematic and effective manner.

What are the causes of domestic violence in Mali?

Domestic violence has many causes. There is the educational factor. Children imitate this behaviour when they are brought up in an environment where all problems are solved with force, either at school or in the family.

In Malian society, many stereotypes are attached to the wife that are not valid for the mother, the sister, and the daughter. For example, I love my mother, I love my sister, I love my daughter, but I should not trust my wife.

Lately, violence occurs when there is bias against women. In Malian society, the man is traditionally considered to be the most important because it is he who marries the woman, feeds the family, and cares for them. Even in the sharing of family property, according to our customs, the man receives twice the share of the woman. So, if men think that women are inferior, or that women do not have the same authority as men, women will be treated with violence. Basically, domestic violence is a result of social inequities.

What is your organization doing to help women survivors of violence?

Several women’s rights organizations provide legal and social assistance to women survivors of domestic violence. We ourselves have shelters for women and children in distress. At the same time, there are legal workshops to help women file a complaint. Survivors can also benefit from the assistance of psychologists, who listen to them and reassure them. Then we organize workshops for training, sensitization, and information on women’s rights and on the laws that protect women against domestic violence.

What makes it difficult to enforce laws against domestic violence in Mali?

Many perpetrators of domestic violence believe that the law should not interfere in their married lives. Survivors of domestic violence feel guilty because they are convinced that they have done something wrong. Thus, those who suffer daily violence hide it, minimize it, or think that it is temporary because they believe that the perpetrator will change sooner or later.

Survivors of domestic violence want the violence to stop, but often do not want to take legal action against the perpetrator. Also, social pressure from children or both families may prevent the victim from taking legal action against the spouse who abandons, insults, or beats her. Malian women are very attached to their married lives and the future of their children and may be convinced that they have to put up with their partners’ excesses for a long time before they decide to break up their years of married life.

What will it take to enforce laws against domestic violence?

Our constitution enshrines equal opportunity between men and women. Some forms of physical and sexual violence are punishable by law. There is a need to enforce the law by increasing activities that raise awareness about the consequences of domestic violence. We must also create a national framework for the protection of survivors and severely punish domestic violence.

For example, improved access to education for girls, more income-generating opportunities for women, and better representation of women in all areas of the public and private sectors, including in leadership positions, can only be beneficial. Anything that men can do, women can also do in the workplace. Women and men must work together for the development of the nation.

Thank you very much, Mariam. Now we turn to Ségné Sangaré, a psychologist, health advisor, and member of the Association of Psychologists of Mali.

Mr. Sangaré, what drives some men to be violent towards their partners?

Some men naturally have a hot temper and are much more likely to be violent. In Malian tradition, a man may think it’s “normal” to dominate his wife. If she is not docile, he puts her back in line. When these men hit their wives, the goal is to make her submit. If the woman refuses, it can be complicated, and even fatal for her. But the causes of domestic violence are diverse. They can come from our upbringing, from the community’s prejudices towards women, and from the advantages given to men in our society.

Why do abused women refuse to leave their partners?

There are several reasons why women survivors refuse to leave. First, society believes that women must suffer so that their children will succeed in their lives. There are several other reasons. Survivors often feel ashamed, guilty, and powerless. They fear that others will judge them and not believe their story. They think that the man can change, because he has promised to.

They are afraid of his threats and for their children’s futures. They fear the consequences if they were to leave him. They are afraid of losing what they have spent so many years building. They believe they cannot do it alone. They feel responsible for “breaking” the family. They ignore the laws that protect them or believe that the laws cannot protect them. They love their husbands, but not their abusive behavior.

As a result, they are trapped, not only because of their beliefs but also because of their attitudes.

What are the consequences for women survivors of domestic violence and their children?

Domestic violence can weaken the ability of some women to believe in themselves.These women can no longer do anything alone, and must be guided at all times. They feel humiliated and confused. They suffer from lack of sleep and suffer a lot socially because of their husband’s pressure.

Things are even more complicated for the children.They live in a context based on domination and aggression. They are confronted with a choice between their parents and live in anguish. Also, violence is rarely discussed within the family. The silence and the taboo that generally surround these situations mean that the children do not receive explanations for the acts they observe and undergo. Thus, they do not have an opportunity to express their feelings, or to be reassured. Left in a state of stress and shock, these children may develop emotional and behavioural problems that will affect their development.

What is the age range of the survivors who seek your services?

There are women of all ages. But it’s usually women who have been in a relationship for more than five years. The oldest woman I ever served was 63 years old and had been in a relationship for 45 years. She was a victim of physical abuse.

What would you say to conclude this interview?

I would say to women who are victims of domestic violence that we are at their disposal day and night. Even though it is difficult to enforce the laws in Mali, even though the society in which we live is not very favourable to them, there is still hope because of the associations and NGOs. They always listen and do all they can for the women and children.

HOST: Thank you for your explanations, Mr. Sangaré. I also thank Ms. Aminata Traoré and Ms. Mariam Traoré for their contributions.

Violence against women includes physical violence, but also economic, sexual, and psychological violence. It affects all societies, developed or developing, and all social classes. Its consequences are devastating for society as a whole.
We have come to the end of today’s program. Thank you to all our guests and to everyone who is listening. We’ll be back soon for another program.


Contributed by: Cheick Bounama Coulibaly, journalist-teacher, Maarif foundation, fraternity production, Bamako, Mali.

Reviewed by: Ms. Mariam Traoré, lawyer specialized in GBV for WiLDAF.

Information Sources


Ms. Aminata Traoré, GBV survivor and private school teacher in Djoro, Segou region. Interview conducted on May 26, 2022.

Ms. Mariam Traoré, a lawyer specialized in GBV for WiLDAF. Interview conducted on June 15, 2022.

Mr. Ségné Sangaré, a psychologist, advisor in health practices and member of the Association of Psychologists of Mali. Interview conducted on June 13, 2022.


According to a report by the Institute for Security Studies (, one out of every two Malian women between the ages of 15 and 49 had already experienced physical or sexual violence.


Cette ressource a été produite grâce à l’initiative « HÉRÈ — Bien-être des femmes au Mali » qui vise à améliorer le bien-être des femmes et des filles en matière de santé sexuelle et reproductive et à renforcer la prévention et la réponse aux violences basées sur le genre dans les régions de Sikasso, Ségou, Mopti et le district de Bamako au Mali. Le projet est mis en œuvre par le Consortium HÉRÈ – MSI Mali, en partenariat avec Radios Rurales Internationales (RRI) et Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) grâce au financement d’Affaires mondiales Canada.