Knowledge and attitude towards rape and child sexual abuse – a community-based cross-sectional study in Rural Tanzania
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Public Health 2015, 15(428) 10.1186/s12889-015-1757-7
Background: Violence against women and children is globally recognized as a social and human rights concern. In Tanzania, sexual violence towards women and children is a public health problem. The aim of this study was to determine community knowledge of and attitudes towards rape and child sexual abuse, and assess associations between knowledge and attitudes and socio-demographic characteristics. Methods: A cross-sectional study was undertaken between May and June 2012. The study was conducted in the Kilombero and Ulanga rural districts in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania. Men and women aged 18–49 years were eligible for the study. Through a three-stage cluster sampling strategy, a household survey was conducted using a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire included socio-demographic characteristics, attitudes about gender roles and violence, and knowledge on health consequences of rape. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software, version 21. Main outcome measures were knowledge of and attitudes towards sexual violence. Multivariate analyses were used to assess associations between socio-demographic characteristics and knowledge of and attitudes towards sexual violence. Results: A total of 1,568 participants were interviewed. The majority (58.4%) of participants were women. Most (58.3%) of the women respondents had poor knowledge on sexual violence and 63.8% had accepting attitudes towards sexual violence. Those who were married were significantly more likely to have good knowledge on sexual violence compared to the divorced/separated group (AOR = 1.6 (95% CI: 1.1-2.2)) but less likely to have non-accepting attitudes towards sexual violence compared to the single group (AOR = 1.8 (95%CI: 1.4-2.3)). Sex of respondents, age, marital status and level of education were associated with knowledge and attitudes towards sexual violence. Conclusions: Our study showed that these rural communities have poor knowledge on sexual violence and have accepting attitudes towards sexual violence. Increasing age and higher education were associated with better knowledge and less accepting attitudes towards sexual violence. The findings have potentially important implications for interventions aimed at preventing violence. The results highlight the challenges associated with changing attitudes towards sexual violence, particularly as the highest levels of support for such violence were found among women.