Sexual Assault and Violence in Africa Is a Serious Problem for Women, Here Is Why

Sexual Assault and Violence in Africa Is a Serious Problem for Women, Here Is Why Image

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
  • Harassment
  • 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. 

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15370057/

https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/july-2007/taking-violence-against-women-africa

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47535023_Sexual_violence_and_conflict_in_Africa_Prevalence_and_potential_impact_on_HIV_incidence

Can Women Catch Diseases Off Toilet Seats?

Can Women Catch Diseases Off Toilet Seats? Image

Many women are skeptical about using public toilets because they fear to pick up Sexually Transmitted Diseases like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other genital infections.  If they use these toilets, most of them end up crouching instead of sitting on the toilet seat.

So is this claim true?

It’s very unlikely to catch any contagious infections from toilet seats because most of the STIs cannot survive on the cold surfaces; they cannot live outside the human body.  They also often transferred via contact with infected membranes and open cuts.

HIV and Hepatitis B do not readily transmit through intact skin like and parasites are usually spread through sexual contact or by contact by infected person clothing or towels.

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that someone can catch a venereal disease from using a public toilet.

The only way you can get an STI from a public toilet is by rubbing a mucous membrane or open wound all over the fluids left by someone who used the toilet previously.

The only STI with a plausibility of being transmitted to persons via a public toilet seat is an STI parasite.

Apart from being transmitted through sex, they can be picked from contact with moist or damp objects like a toilet seat, if the genitals are in close contact with the moist object.

But as we said earlier, toilet seats don’t provide an ideal environment for a parasite to live or reproduce. Also, to be infected your genitals must be in close contact with the parasite while still alive on the toilet seat.

The infections you can get from using a public toilet seat

Even though the chance of getting STIs like gonorrhea or chlamydia is near to zero, there are other bacteria you can get from toilet seats.

Here are the infections you might get:

E. coli (Escherichia coli) is often found in feces. Toilets seats provide a suitable breeding area for these bacteria.  The bacteria is usually located in your gut, but if you’re subjected to it from non-porous toilet seats, then you can suffer from abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Streptococcus is a bacterium that we usually carry on our skin. If you share a toilet with someone carrying the bacteria, then you might become colonized by the bacteria.   The bacteria cause bronchial, pneumonia, and strep throat. Many bathrooms and toilets harbor this bacterium.

Shigella bacteria are transmitted between people when they don’t wash their hands thoroughly.  The infections of these bacteria are alike to that of E. coli and they get transmitted when an infected person’s feces contaminate a toilet seat, lids, and handles.  

How to protect yourself from picking up bacteria from public toilets

Luckily there are numerous ways to prevent yourself from contracting bacteria in the public toilet, including:

Regulate what you go with to the toilet, especially your smartphone. If you carry any belongings into the toilet, just leave your smartphone in your pocket or purse. And if you use it in the toilet, wipe it with alcohol-based wipes.

Don’t put your purse on the restroom surface. Place it on a hook, avoid placing them in restroom surfaces completely.

Wash your hand thoroughly after using public toilets if you want to avoid catching as many germs and bacteria as possible.

Dry your hand with your towel or use it to switch off the faucet and open or close the toilets door. The fewer restroom surfaces you come into contact with, the less your exposure to bacteria and germs.

Although it’s nearly impossible to contract an STI from a public toilet seat, many bacteria are living in public bathrooms and toilets. Therefore, it’s wise to follow precautions to minimize your exposure to bacteria as much as possible.

References

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0028132

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1744865/

https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm

https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/sites/default/files/assets/1/AssetManager/2005%20Hand%20Hygiene%20Survey%20Key%20Findings.pdf

https://aem.asm.org/content/81/2/765.full