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The prevalence of sexual violence against African women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Qu Xianguo
Cao Hui
Shen Xin
Feng Jing
Wang Zijian
Niu Zhenyu
Gan Yong


Background: High rates of sexual violence ratios in low-income countries are recognized as a global public health problem. The incidence of violence against African women has been increasing. However, no study has systematically summarized the global prevalence of sexual violence against African woman.

Methods: We conducted a comprehensive search of PubMed, Embase and Web of Science, databases from their inception through January 2021 for pertinent studies on reporting the prevalence of sexual violence against African women. We included observational studies. The prevalence rate was estimated using a random-effects meta-analysis. The heterogeneity was evaluated using I2 statistic. Differences by study level characteristics were estimated through subgroup analysis and meta-regression.

Results: A total of 9 cross-sectional studies were included (a total of 9,030 participants). The pooled sexual violence rate was 0.33 (95% CI = 0.23–0.42). Subgroup analyses found that there was a higher rates of sexual violence against pregnant woman in east Africa (0.41, 95% CI = 0.24–0.58), pregnant (0.42, 95% CI = 0.05–0.80), and interview (0.40, 95% CI = 0.01–0.78). The analysis found that the major sexual violence types were the physical violence (0.19, 95% CI = 0.07–0.31), psychological violence (0.36, 95% CI = 0.11–0.61), sexual assault (0.25, 95% CI = 0.02–0.47).

Conclusions: Nearly one out of every three (33%) African woman around the world has been a victim of sexual violence in their life. This current study investigated the status and characteristics of sexual violence against women, which could provide an important reference for the African health care provider. Assessing this problem against African women helps government officials, policy makers, program designers and non-governmental organizations to design prevention and controlling strategies.

Keywords: Sexual violence; African women; Meta-analysis.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905