Studies of sexual behavior among young people in the developing world have generally neglected the circumstances in which sex takes place, most often assuming that when young people have sex, it is wanted and consensual. The few published studies on nonconsensual sex have often used highly selective samples, ignoring the experience of males and of married young people.
A 2001 population-based survey of young people in Nyeri, Kenya, included a special module on sexual coercion. Descriptive data and multivariate analysis are used to explore the prevalence and patterns of sexual coercion among married and unmarried males and females aged 10-24.
Among the sexually experienced respondents, 21% of females and 11% of males had experienced sex under coercive conditions. Most of the perpetrators were intimate partners, including boyfriends, girlfriends and husbands. In a multivariate logistic regression, females who had ever been married and those who did not live with a parent or spouse had a significantly elevated risk of sexual coercion (odds ratios, 2.6 and 3.1, respectively); sexual coercion was associated with having had multiple sexual partners and with having had a reproductive tract infection (2.2 and 2.5). Males who had been coerced into sex were significantly more likely than those who had not to have had a first partner who was older by at least five years (82.9).
Reproductive health programs for young people need to address nonconsensual sex, including the special needs of males and of married females.