Original Research

Knowledge of sexual abuse amongst female students in Malawi

R. Dzimadzi, H. Klopper
Curationis | Vol 30, No 3 | a1094 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v30i3.1094 | © 2007 R. Dzimadzi, H. Klopper | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2007 | Published: 28 September 2007

About the author(s)

R. Dzimadzi, Department of Nursing Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
H. Klopper, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, South Africa

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Abstract

Sexual abuse is an increasing problem in Malawi amongst female students, and is associated with physical and mental health problems. This study aimed to determine existing knowledge of sexual abuse amongst female students in tertiary education institutions in Malawi. A descriptive, comparative, quantitative and contextual research design was used. Participants (n=219) were selected through systematic random sampling from a population of female students aged 18 to 21, at fifteen (n= 15) tertiary education institutions in Malawi. Sexually abusive behaviours demonstrated by a lover and friend were interpreted as not being abusive. There were no significant differences in knowledge of sexual abuse between the abused and non-abused respondent groups (p > 0.05). The overall prevalence rate of sexual abuse was 41%. Common forms of sexual abuse experienced were touching of breasts (54.4%) and attempted sexual intercourse (47.8%). Completed sexual intercourse was experienced by 18.9% of the respondents. The majority reported that they were sexually abused by men (98.9%). Twenty one percent experienced more than one sexually abusive incident and some respondents were abused by friends (30%). The abusers mostly used physical threats. Only 55.6% reported their sexual victimisation to others. Female students aged 18 to 21 in tertiary education institutions in Malawi had some knowledge of sexual abuse, but there were deficits in the interpretation of sexually abusive behaviours. The majority of abusers were male adolescents and young adults. Respondents should know what the Malawi law stipulates and what can be done to control and prevent sexual abuse. The information obtained from the study was used to develop guidelines for sexual abuse prevention programmes.

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