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Sexual coercion among in-school adolescents in Rwanda: prevalence and correlates of victimization and normative acceptance

Els Van Decraen
Kristien Michielsen
Sarah Herbots
Ronan Van Rossem
Marleen Temmerman


Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to sexual coercion, as victim as well as perpetrator. This paper aims to adapt sexual and reproductive health interventions to the reality of young people’s sexuality and relationships. This study assesses the prevalence of forced sex, characteristics of victims and norms regarding sexual coercion among Rwandan adolescents. A survey was completed by 285 senior secondary school students and four focus groups were conducted. Of sexually active respondents, 15.5% (95% CI = [15.1 – 15.9]) reported forced sexual intercourse. Sexual victimization was associated with being female and having (had) a concurrent sexual relationship. Acceptance of sexual coercion was associated with importance attached to Rwandan traditions and an interaction term between sex (being male) and alcohol use. Respondents linked concurrency and age-disparate relationships to transactional sex, increasing the risk of sexual coercion. Various risk factors were identified. The findings suggest the need for moving towards comprehensive sex education.

(Afr J Reprod Health 2012; 16[3]: 139-153).

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eISSN: 1118-4841