Friday, January 1, 2016

Experiences of Forced Sex among Female Patrons of Alcohol-Serving Venues in a South African Township

South Africa has among the highest rates of forced sex worldwide, and alcohol use has consistently been associated with risk of forced sex in South Africa. However, methodological challenges affect the accuracy of forced sex measurements. 

This study explored the assessment of forced sex among South African women attending alcohol-serving venues and identified factors associated with reporting recent forced sex. Women (n = 785) were recruited from 12 alcohol-serving venues in a peri-urban township in Cape Town. Brief self-administered surveys included questions about lifetime and recent experiences of forced sex. Surveys included a single question about forced sex and detailed questions about sex by physical force, threats, verbal persuasion, trickery, and spiked drinks. We first compared the single question about forced sex to a composite variable of forced sex as unwanted sex by physical force, threats, or spiked drinks. We then examined potential predictors of recent forced sex (demographics, drinking behavior, relationship to the venue, abuse experiences). 

The single question about forced sex had low sensitivity (0.38); more than half of the respondents who reported on the detailed questions that they had experienced forced sex by physical force, threats, or spiked drinks reported on the single question item that they had not experienced forced sex. Using our composite variable, 18.6% of women reported lifetime and 10.8% reported recent experiences of forced sex. In our adjusted logistic regression model, recent forced sex using the composite variable was significantly associated with hazardous drinking (OR = 1.92), living farther from the venue (OR = 1.81), recent intimate partner violence (OR = 2.53), and a history of childhood sexual abuse (OR = 4.35). 

The findings support the need for additional work to refine the assessment of forced sex. Efforts to prevent forced sex should target alcohol-serving venues, where norms and behaviors may present particular risks for women who frequent these settings.

Full article at:

1Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
2University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA
3Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Correspondence: Melissa Watt, PhD, Duke University, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke Box 90519, Durham, NC 27708, Tel: 919-613-6126,Email: ude.ekud@ttaw.assilem
Published online 2014 Jun 30. doi:  10.1177/0886260514540807 

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