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Examining the Factors Associated With Sexual Violence Against Women in Sierra Leone: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study. J Interpers Violence 2022 Feb;37(3-4):1384-1403



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85085698810 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)


In 2019, Sierra Leone declared national emergency over rape and other forms of sexual violence (SV), hence diverting resources from other issues to tackle SV. However, little is known about nationwide risk/protective factors for SV, and this has been a source of critique for the new policy. To fill this gap in knowledge, we investigated the factors for SV toward women using a nationally representative sample. We analyzed the 2013 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data, including 16,658 women, aged 15-49 years. The outcome was current SV, defined as being physically forced to have sexual intercourse within the last 12 months. We examined respondent's background, sexual activities, and experience of domestic violence (DV). Logistic regression analyses were performed using STATA/SE v.15.1, accounting for survey design and sample weights. Values of p less than .05 were considered statistically significant. ArcMap was used to demonstrate geographic distribution of SV cases. We found that about 258 (6.3%) women reported SV. In adjusted analysis, women in the north (than south; 2.88, 95% CI = [1.44, 5.75]) and women circumcised between the ages of 1 and 14 (1.67, 95% CI = [1.10, 2.54]) reported higher risk of SV, respectively. Women who had sex more than 25 times per year were 6.9 times more likely to report SV, compared with those with 1 to 24 times (6.91, 95% CI = [1.48, 32.19]). The odds of SV were 6 times higher among women who reported experiencing recent physical violence (5.86, 95% CI = [2.49, 13.80]) or history of SV (6.34, 95% CI = [2.57, 15.65]). In conclusion, this study adds to the literature by providing information on major factors associated with SV toward women in Sierra Leone using a nationally representative sample. Women in the north (Tonkolili), circumcised between the ages of 1 and 14, had sex more than 25 times per year, reported physical violence (12 months before the survey) and SV (ever forced to have sex) reported higher risk for current SV. While more research is needed, these findings will help inform the current emergency operations against SV in Sierra Leone.

Author List

Shour AR, Anguzu R, Zhou Y, Beyer K


Ronald Anguzu MD, PhD Assistant Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Child, Preschool
Cross-Sectional Studies
Sex Offenses
Sexual Behavior
Sierra Leone