Abstract: Sexual Violence Experience Among Nigerian Girls and Young Women: What Is the Role of Early Sexual Debut, Multiple Sex Partnership, and Traditional Gender Role Beliefs? (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

555 Sexual Violence Experience Among Nigerian Girls and Young Women: What Is the Role of Early Sexual Debut, Multiple Sex Partnership, and Traditional Gender Role Beliefs?

Friday, May 31, 2019
Bayview B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Natasha De Veauuse Brown, MPH, Ph.D. Candidate, Georgia State University School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
Francis B. Annor, Ph.D., Epidemiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Monica H. Swahn, PhD, Professor, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Shannon Self-Brown, PhD, Professor, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Background: Over half of African children report exposure to some form of violence. In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, 1 in 4 girls have experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse. Traditional norms viewing violence against women and children as culturally acceptable have contributed substantially to this problem. Sexual risk behaviors can also contribute to victimization. Therefore, it is imperative to examine the factors associated with sexual violence victimization of girls and young women in Nigeria. Doing so will identify targets for prevention activities and help policymakers and other stakeholders prioritize limited resources for appropriate response efforts.

Methods: The Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey is a national, cross-sectional household survey conducted from May to July 2014 in every State in Nigeria. Data were collected from 4,203 non-institutionalized males and females ages 13-24 using a stratified, three-stage, cluster sample survey design to generate nationally representative estimates. The current paper focuses on secondary data analyses with 1,766 females who completed the survey. The outcome variable of interest is lifetime sexual violence victimization experiences. Several potential risk factors were explored, including beliefs about gender roles related to sex, early sexual debut (< age 15), and having more than one sex partner in the past 12 months. Control variables include having ever attended school, having ever been married or cohabitating, and employment (working for money or other pay in the past week). Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Sex-related gender role beliefs, multiple sex partnerships, and school attendance were independently associated with an increased risk of sexual violence victimization among Nigerian girls and young women. Females who endorsed beliefs about patriarchal sexual decision-making (OR=2.1; CI: 1.25 – 3.67), had more than one sex partner (OR=1.8; CI: 1.14 – 2.93), or attended school (OR=3.3; CI: 1.93 – 5.54) were more likely to report experiencing some form of sexual violence.

Conclusions: Sexual violence prevention programs need to address multiple sex partnership as well as consider traditional beliefs about gender roles regarding sex and tailor prevention activities to societal norms in Nigeria. Additionally, school attendance may expose children to an array of potential predators (e.g., school staff, classmates, friends, strangers, etc.). Therefore, to prevent sexual violence of children who attend school, implementing safety measures may be beneficial for protecting students while in and traveling to/from school.