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 Saturday 15 August 2009
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SWAZILAND: Widespread sexual violence puts girls at risk of HIV

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One in three Swazi girls has experienced some form of sexual violence before 18
NAIROBI, 13 May 2009 (PlusNews) - One in three Swazi girls has experienced some form of sexual violence before the age of 18, which often leads to serious social and health problems including HIV and unwanted pregnancies, a new study has found.

"[Sexual violence] has devastating short-term and long-term mental, reproductive, and physical health consequences," said the authors of the study supported by the UN Children's Fund and the United States Centres for Disease Control, and published in the latest edition of the British medical journal, The Lancet.

An estimated 22 percent of Swazi women aged between 15 and 24 are infected with HIV; the authors noted that sexual violence could be an important route of HIV transmission in high-prevalence countries like Swaziland.

The study categorised sexual violence into types including forced intercourse, coerced intercourse, and forced touching. Forced intercourse before the age of 18 was reported by five percent of girls, with coerced intercourse being reported by nine percent. Almost 90 percent of girls reported the first experience of sexual violence between the ages of 13 and 17.

"Sexual violence was associated with significantly increased probability ... of ever feeling depressed, thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide, unwanted pregnancy, pregnancy complications or miscarriages, sexually transmitted diseases, difficulty sleeping, and alcohol consumption," the report said.

Disturbingly, researchers found that in three-quarters of cases, the perpetrators of sexual violence were men or boys related to or known to the girls.

"Future strategies should focus on prevention of perpetration by men of sexual violence, and since sexual- and intimate-partner violence might have common roots, local and national initiatives could be reviewed, adapted and scaled up for this purpose," the authors recommended.


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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