JOURNAL ARTICLE

Men's and women's experiences of violence and traumatic events in rural Cote d'Ivoire before, during and after a period of armed conflict

Mazeda Hossain, Cathy Zimmerman, Ligia Kiss, Drissa Kone, Monika Bakayoko-Topolska, David K A Manan, Heidi Lehmann, Charlotte Watts
BMJ Open 2014, 4 (2): e003644
24568959

OBJECTIVE: We assessed men's and women's experiences of gender based violence and other traumatic events in Côte d'Ivoire, a West African conflict-affected setting, before, during and after a period of active armed conflict (2000-2007).

DESIGN: Cross-sectional, household survey.

SETTING: 12 rural communities directly impacted by the Crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, spanning regions controlled by government forces, rebels and UN peacekeepers in 2008.

PARTICIPANTS: 2678 men and women aged 15-49 years.

PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Violence exposures measured since age 15. Questions included intimate partner physical and sexual violence; physical and sexual violence by others (including combatants) and exposure to traumatic events before, during and after the Crisis period (2000-2007).

RESULTS: Physical and/or sexual violence since age 15 was reported by 57.1% women and 40.2% men (p=0.01); 29.9% women and 12.3% men reported exposure to any violence in the past year. Nearly 1 in 10 women (9.9%) and 5.9% men (p=0.03) were forced to have sex by a non-partner since age 15, and 14.8% women and 3.3% men (p=0.00) reported their first sexual experience was forced. Combatants were rarely reported as sexual violence perpetrators (0.3% women). After the Crisis, intimate partner physical violence was the most frequently reported form of violence and highest among women (20.9% women, 9.9% men, p=0.00). Fearing for their life was reported by men and women before, during and after the Crisis.

CONCLUSIONS: Sexual violence in conflict remains a critical international policy concern. However, men and women experience different types of violence before, during and after conflict. In many conflict settings, other forms of violence, including intimate partner violence, may be more widespread than conflict-related sexual violence. Alongside service provision for rape survivors, our findings underscore the need for postconflict reconstruction efforts to invest in programmes to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence and trauma.

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