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Prevalence of Sexual Assault in Four Eastern European Countries

Florina Serbanescu, MD, MPH1, Mary M. Goodwin, MA, MPA2, and Leo Morris, PhD2. (1) Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Reproductive Health, 4770 Buford Hwy., NE, Mail Stop K-35, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, (770) 488-6226, fserbanescu@cdc.gov, (2) Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS K35, Atlanta, GA 30341

Background: Sexual assault (SA) is widely recognized as a crime with potentially serious negative consequences for women's physical and mental health. In Eastern Europe, little documentation exists to estimate prevalence of SA and its potential association with reproductive health. Data and Methods: Using data from reproductive health surveys in Moldova, Romania, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, we present prevalence and characteristics of women who have experienced SA. Surveys consisted of face-to-face interviews of national probability samples of 5-8 thousand women aged 15-44 per country. We examined levels of SA before age 25 and the association with other types of violence. Results: Lifetime prevalence of SA ranged from 2% in Georgia to 8% in Romania. The first SA occurrence was generally before age 25; 47% in Azerbaijan, 63% in Georgia, 71% in Moldova, and 73% in Romania reported SA during young adulthood. Younger cohorts were more likely to report rape before age 25 then older cohorts. Most victims of SA (79%-97%) were assaulted by intimates, and were more likely to report experiencing parental abuse while growing up and experiencing physical abuse from a current or ex-partner. Experiencing SA before age 25 increased the likelihood of reporting the last pregnancy as unintended. Conclusions: Rape is a criminal act against women but documentation from official sources is often lacking. Data from population-based surveys can be instrumental in the development of policies and laws to protect the victims of SA. Data can also be used to project the need for support services and interventions for victims.

Learning Objectives: Participants will

Keywords: Sexual Assault, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Gender-Based Violence: Context, Consequences, and Program Responses

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA