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BACKGROUND: Sexual violence remains a persistent and devastating issue in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). AIM: To elucidate the sociodemographic, sexual, and obstetrical characteristics associated with the experiences of victims of sexual violence (VSV) among women in the region. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted involving 625 women from eastern DRC. Participants provided self-reported data, collected through interviews conducted by trained female interviewers in secure environments. Associations between VSV and various sociodemographic and reproductive health factors were examined. RESULTS: Of the respondents, 26.1% reported experiences of sexual violence. VSV were predominantly younger, with 56.44% aged between 15 and 24 years. Single women comprised 57.67% of VSV, and 37.42% identified as farmers. There were 33.13% of VSV who were illiterate, and 81.60% belonged to the low socio-economic stratum. Early physiological and reproductive milestones characterised VSV: 52.15% experienced menarche at or before 13 years, 34.97% initiated sexual intercourse before age 15, and 18.70% reported their first pregnancy before age 15. Higher nulliparity was observed in VSV (29.45%) compared to non-VSV (9.31%). A lower prevalence of HIV infection was found among VSV (11.04%) relative to non-VSV (25.76%). CONCLUSION: Sexual violence in the eastern DRC exhibits multifactorial associations. Younger women, those in certain occupations, and those with specific reproductive histories appear more vulnerable. The findings underscore the urgency for targeted interventions, enhanced access to education, and improved reproductive health services. Addressing these pressing issues should remain a primary focus in both societal and public health spheres.

Original publication




Journal article


Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol

Publication Date



AIDS, Democratic Republic of the Congo, HIV, female, prevalence, sexual partners, sexual violence, women