Prevalence of physical, verbal and nonverbal sexual harassments and their association with psychological distress among Jimma university female students: A cross-sectional study
Background: A number of studies conducted on sexual harassment focused on general magnitude rather than specific details of the various forms of sexual harassment and their effect on psychological health. Thus, the objective of this study was to assess the prevalence rates of the various forms of sexual harassments and their associations with psychological distress among Jimma University female students.
Methods: Three hundred and eighty five (385) female participants were selected from all colleges using stratified and systematic sampling techniques. A structured questionnaire consisting of items on the various forms of sexual harassment and psychological distress was administered.
Results: The prevalence rates of physical, verbal and nonverbal sexual harassments were 78.2%, 90.4% and 80.0%, respectively, while the prevalence rate of psychological distress among students who had experienced sexual harassment was 63.0%. The multivariable logistic regression analyses indicated that students who were physically [adjusted OR = 3.950, 95% CI = (1.979, 7.884)] and nonverbally [(adjusted OR = 12.099, 95% CI= (5.190, 28.205] harassed were 4 and 12 times more likely to experience psychological distress, respectively, adjusted for all other variables.
Conclusion: The prevalence of various forms of sexual harassment were higher and strongly associated with psychological distress. Important implications for University officials and policy makers including creating harassment free University have been drawn. Otherwise, female students tend to dropout and their academic achievements suffer a lot as a result of psychological distress; and the government’s effort for realizing the gender parity in education would be compromised.
Keywords: Verbal sexual harassment, Nonverbal sexual harassment, Physical sexual harassment, Psychological distress