Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rape against Brazilian Women: Characteristics of Victims and Sex Offenders

Violence against women is a serious social problem and affects mainly young women. This study aimed to evaluate sexual violence against women in Campina Grande, Brazil.

A retrospective study with analysis of 886 forensic medical reports of sexual violence from the Institute of Legal Medicine of Campina Grande, Brazil, was conducted between January 2005 and December 2009. Sociodemographic variables related to victims, offenders and aggressions were analyzed. Significance level of 5% was adopted.

Two hundred and ninety-one cases of rape (32.8%) were confirmed, the majority of victims aged between 0 and 19 years (89.9%), were single (98.8%) and had low educational level (86.9%), with association with marital status (P = 0.02). The sex offender was known to the victim in 84.2% of cases and in 93.8% of cases, he acted alone. There was an association between rape and the relationship with the offenders (P = 0.01) and the age of the offenders (P = 0.03). The rape occurred in most cases at the home of victims (49.3%), with the use of violence in 72.3% of cases, but only 5.7% of the victims exhibited physical injuries. There was an association between rape and variables date of occurrence (P = 0.001), previous virginity (P = 0.001) and violence during practice (P = 0.001).

Over one third of women were victims of rape, predominantly adolescents, unmarried and with low educational level. The offenders were known to the victims, and acted alone in most situations, making use of physical violence.

...Most of the victims were 19 or younger, a result similar to that observed in the United States, with predominance of adolescent victims aged from 12 to 17 yr (, ). Another study conducted in a U.S. hospital revealed mean age of 26.2 years (), which is higher than that found in this work. Brazilian researchers found that the prevalence of victims aged under 19 yr ranges from 47.6 () to 77% (). The prevalence of this crime in this age group may be related to the greater consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs, increased frequency of relationships with others, greater exposure to domestic violence, greater public exposure and finally the earlier sexual development primarily driven by the media ().

Most victims had low educational level, a result similar to that seen in the United States () and Brazil (). In this research, predominance of young victims, mostly students was found, corroborating the findings of other Brazilian authors (). Aggressions against women are mainly committed by intimate or known people (). In this study, 84.2% of offenders were known to the victims, with predominance of the current partner, corroborating previous findings (,,,). In the United States, more than half of women reported that at some point in their lives, they had been victims of physical aggression or sexual assault by their current partners (). It could be inferred that while father, stepfather, uncles and brothers are the most frequent aggressors against children, spouse or intimate partners are the most frequent perpetrators against adult women.

In 6.2% of cases, more than one perpetrator participated in the violence, which is in accordance with literature that reports a low frequency of multiple aggressors (). In this study, the number of offenders varied from two to five. Psychological sequelae may be more severe when the crime involves multiple perpetrators ().

A significant number of cases of rape occurred at home, both the victim and the aggressor, diverging from data described in literature, where most cases of sexual violence occurs on public roads (). Women attacked at the domestic environment are those that least denounced violence to authorities, since most are abused by known people ()...

Full article at:

  • 1School of Nursing, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • 2Dept. of Public Health, State University of Paraiba, Campina Grande, Brazil. 
  •  2015 Dec;44(12):1613-9.

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