Sexual assault and STIs are a serious public issue all across Africa. According to the National Library of Medicine, of all the women surveyed, 44% have been sexually assaulted. Some were abused by their relationship partner, while others by people they’ve never met before.
However, this is not the first time women in Africa have been subjects to abuse. In 2005, 71% of women in Ethiopia and 50% in Tanzania reported being abused by their intimate partners. That’s a huge percentage of the female African population.
The question is, how these experiences affect women? Does the abuse affect STI rates in the region? We’ve decided to analyze all the statistical research on sexual assaults and STIs and how it’s affecting women in Africa.
The Impact of Sexual Assaults on Women in Africa
Sexual assaults in Africa goes by many forms, such as:
- Forced marriage
- Marital rape
- Paid dowry for violence
- Forced abortion, pregnancy & sterilization
- Human trafficking and prostitution
These kinds of traumatic experiences leave a lasting impact on women. In many cases, it exposes them to STIs and increases the risk of contracting HIV by 10%. Based on reports in Nigeria, 16% of young girls under 5 years old have contracted STIs after a sexual assault.
The older women who’ve been assaulted multiple times have a tendency to switch numerous sex partners and are less interested in protecting themselves from STIs, explained the National Library of Medicine. They have a lower chance of using protection during intercourse and are at risk of developing ulcers and other STIs.
The reason for that is fear. Women who’ve been abused by partners are more likely to be afraid to ask them to use contraception. This kind of behavior has affected STI and HIV rates in the region. As a results, the number of infected individuals has constantly been increasing.
Why Is This Happening?
Experts believe it is rooted in the culture. Abusers usually perceive their act of violence as a method for solving family problems. They have either been exposed to violence or grew up in homes where violence was prevalent.
Another reason is to establish dominance. Men demand respect and obedience, which is why they often result in violence as a means to establish control.
In Africa, sexual violence is a highly widespread phenomenon. It’s embedded in their culture and is used as a method to intimidate the female population. Women in these kinds of societies tolerate a high amount of violence against them.
The cultural norms put them in a submissive position where they feel inferior to their spouse or intimate partner. Simply put, women are undervalued, unappreciated, and disrespected. They are considered property.
In a region that approves these crimes, and there is no responsibility taken for such actions, these crimes will only keep happening.