MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Naeemah Abrahams
Senior Specialist Scientist: Gender & Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council
Extraordinary Professor: Faculty of Community Health Sciences -School of Public Health: University of the Western Cape
Associate Professor: Faculty of Health Sciences – School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: University of Cape Town
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Prof. Abrahams: We found a global estimate of non-partner sexual violence of 7.2% for women 15 years and older – but this estimate varied across the globe. The regions with the highest prevalence was Sub Sahara Africa Central and Southern with a prevalence was 21% in the central region and 17.4 % in the Southern region. This is nearly 3 times the global estimate . The region with the lowest prevalence was Asia South at 3.3%. The low level could be due to a number of reasons. Firstly data from this region was very limited – from 2 countries only and we have found that if sexual violence questions are added to other larger studies the level of disclosure is not very high. It is also more likely that people from Asia region do not disclose the violence in research studies because of stigma and shame.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Prof. Abrahams: We think that the estimate of 7.2% is an underestimate. This is mainly due to the huge data gaps that we found and we were surprised at how wide spread it was. We had expected to find more data at country level.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Prof. Abrahams: Non partner sexual violence is a health problem that affects many women and it is very likely that women attending services particularly mental health services have a history of sexual violence. It is important to refer women for support and services if a clinician come across it. Also the WHO has developed a set of clinical guidelines for health care workers and health policy makers http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/9789241548595/en/index.html and clinician must see how they are best able to assist their patients by using these guidelines.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Prof. Abrahams: It is important for countries collect their own population data to be able to determine the levels of all forms of gender based violence and to use this to understand the patterns and to develop interventions that are relevant to their settings. There are many examples of good research prevalence studies and instruments that have been developed on gender based violence which can be adapted to country settings.