Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Sexual Violence Victimization among Female Secondary School Students in Eastern Ethiopia

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Sexual Violence Victimization among Female Secondary School Students in Eastern Ethiopia

Article excerpt

Behavioral, lifestyle, and relationship factors have all been identified as risk factors that increase a woman's vulnerability to sexual violence victimization. However, it remains unclear which risk factors most strongly increase young women's vulnerability to sexual violence victimization because most studies only examine a few factors simultaneously. Using a cross-sectional sample of 764 female secondary school students from eastern Ethiopia, multivariate analyses revealed that high-rejection sensitivity, having multiple sexual partners, the frequent watching of pornography, and use of alcohol or other soft drugs (Khat or shisha) are factors associated with higher levels of sexual violence victimization. The overall rates of victimization is high in this group, with 68% of the young women studied having experienced at least one instance of sexual violence victimization. Based on type of sexual perpetration, 52% of the young women were victimized by at least one instance of sexual offence, 56% by sexual assault, 25% by sexual coercion, and 15% by sexual aggression. Qualitative data gathered from interviews of extracurricular club members and school officials and focus group discussion with students were used to further augment and illustrate results from the quantitative data. Several suggestions for intervention are presented in light of these results.

Keywords: sexual violence; victimization; risk factors; secondary school

Adolescence and young adulthood are the periods in which more than 50% of the sexual violence toward women occurs (Molla, Ismail, Kumei, & Kebede, 2002; Mulugeta, Kassaye, & Berhane, 1998; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Sexual violence victimization refers to experiencing any sexual acts ranging from unwanted verbal comments, nonverbal behaviors, and actions to sexual intercourse using psychological intimidation or physical force (Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy, Zwi, & Lozano, 2002). Most sexual violence victimizations among young women occurs in friendly and acquainted relationships with peers (Dibaba, 2007; Forke, Myers, Cattalozzi, & Schwarz, 2008; Tjaden & Thoennes). Potentially perpetrating young men exploit young women's behavioral, lifestyle, and relationship vulnerabilities to commit sexual violence victimization (Impett & Peplau, 2002; Livingston, Buddie, Testa, & Tamsen, 2007; Testa, Tamsen, & Livingston, 2007). Identifying these vulnerabilities can be used to develop preventive interventions to preclude young male perpetrators from taking advantage of these women. This study focuses on risk factors that increase young women's vulnerability to sexual violence victimization with young males who are peers, friends, partners, or acquaintances using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. In the first part of this article, we use quantitative analyses to identify risk factors that predict sexual violence victimization; in the second part, we use qualitative data derived from interviews with extracurricular club members and school personnel and focus group discussion with female students to illustrate and contextualize these risk factors.

The lifetime prevalence of sexual violence victimization among young women ranges from 5% to 73% worldwide (Ellis, Widmayer, & Palmer, 2009; Gómez, Speizer, & Beauvais, 2009; Gross, Winslett, Roberts, & Gohm, 2006; King et al., 2004; Rickert, Wiemann, Vaughan, & White, 2004) and from 5% to 74% in Ethiopia (Arnold, Gelaye, Goshu, Berhane, & Williams, 2008; Dibaba, 2007; Gorfu & Demsse, 2007; Mulugeta et al., 1998; Worku & Addisie, 2002). The highest prevalence rate is documented for nonpenetrative sexual violence victimization (such as unwanted verbal sexual expressions, 74% [Mulugeta et al., 1998]; and unwanted sexual bodily contacts, 73% [Ellis et al., 2009]). The lowest rate is indicated for physically forced sexual intercourse victimization (Gorfu & Demsse; King et al.; Rickert et al. …

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