The magnitude of sexual abuse and its physical effects among female children seen at Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Background: Child sexual abuse is a form of abuse that involves sexual activity with a minor. A child does not possess the ability to consent to any form of sexual activity. Therefore, perpetrators who engage in sexual activity with a minor are committing the crime of sexual abuse. The definition of child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. The objective of this study was to assess the magnitude and associated physical consequences of sexual abuse among female children seen at Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Method and Materials: This cross-sectional study identified and reviewed 1,500 reported cases of sexual abuse through hospital records at Gandhi Memorial Hospital (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) between March 2016 and February 2017. These cases were all perpetrated against females and included both adults and children. From a total of 1,500 cases reviewed, 1,100 involved victims in the pediatric age group (under 18 years) who first presented to the hospital following sexual abuse. Of these 1,100 cases, 292 female children were selected. One study participant was selected for every three victims of child sexual abuse, until the required sample size was met. Data were collected from these 292 cases, and descriptive analysis was used to describe study findings. This analysis included frequencies, percentages, and standard deviations. The socio-demographic and educational status of study participants, as well as the physical findings of the victims on presentation, were analyzed, and presented numerically and as percentages of the total study population.
Results: The majority of the victims were referred from Addis Ababa. Among the 292 selected cases, 221 (75.7%) were from Addis Ababa and the rest were from the surrounding areas. The majority of respondents (64.7%) were between 12 and 18 years of age, with a small percentage of respondents (5.8%) between 2 and 3 years of age. Most respondents (242 cases, 82.9%) had no previous history of sexual abuse, but the remaining 50 cases (17.1%) had a previous history of sexual abuse by the same or a different perpetuator.
Conclusions: This study provides data, and thus evidence for policymakers and other stakeholders, to strive for an improvement in the security and protection of children, as well as education on the matter of child sexual abuse for parents and guardians. Those who could be involved in the implementation of intervention strategies may include parents, health professionals and pertinent personnel from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Above all, the data suggest a need for the victims to receive training on how to protect themselves from victimization. Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2019; 33(3):00-00]
Key words: Child sexual abuse, rape, female