While links between intimate-partner violence (IPV) and HIV risk have been established, less is known about violence perpetrated by people other than intimate partners. In addition, much of the research on IPV has been conducted with adults, while relatively little is known about violence experienced by adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). We examined experiences of sexual violence and associated sexual and mental health among AGYW in Kenya and Zambia.
Using cross-sectional surveys with women aged 15–24 years, we assessed experience of partner sexual violence among respondents who reported a boyfriend/husband in the last 12 months (Kenya N = 597; Zambia N = 426) and non-partner sexual violence among all respondents (Kenya N = 1778; Zambia N = 1915). We conducted logistic regression analyses to examine experiences of sexual violence and health outcomes.
Sexual violence from intimate partners over the last year was reported by 19.1 percent of AGYW respondents in Kenya and 22.2 percent in Zambia; sexual violence from non-partners was reported by 21.4 percent in Kenya and 16.9 percent in Zambia. Experience of sexual violence was associated with negative health outcomes. Violence from non-partners was associated with increased odds of STI symptoms and increased levels of anxiety and depression. Results were similar for violence from partners, although only significant in Kenya. While sexual violence from a non-partner was associated with increased HIV risk perception, it was not associated when the violence was experienced from an intimate partner.
AGYW reported high levels of sexual violence from both intimate partners and non-partners. These experiences were associated with negative health outcomes, though there were some differences by country context. Strengthening sexual violence prevention programs, increasing sexual violence screening, and expanding the provision of post-violence care are needed to reduce intimate and non-partner violence and the effects of violence on AGYW.