Objective To estimate the prevalence of child sexual abuse among women in Brazil.
Methods Data based on a multicenter cross-sectional study performed by WHO. It used cluster sampling, with a representative sample of 1172 women aged 15–49 years in São Paulo, Southeastern Brazil, and 1473 women from Zona da Mata de Pernambuco, Northeastern. Standardised questionnaires were completed in 2000 and 2001. The χ2 test was performed.
Results A total of 2645 women took part. 117 women reported childhood sexual abuse before age 15 years, a prevalence of 6.0% (95% CI 0.05% to 0.07%). The abuse occurred mainly between ages 12 and 15 years. The majority of violence abusers were aged 30–39 years and were male in 94.5% of the cases. Family members were responsible for the majority of abuse (43.6%, family friends 12.4%, strangers 10.2% and other persons 10.2%). A first occurrence of sexual occurrence age <15 years was reported by 203 women, of which 60.1% declared that it was forced (p<0.001). A higher percentage (64.7%) of women were abused once or twice, compared to few times (18.7%) and many times (16.6%). When the father was the perpetrator, the violence occurred many a few or many times.
Conclusions The prevalence of child sexual abuse among women is considerable in Brazil. The participation of family members and the severity of the violence is notable. Patterns of abuse by the father suggest recurrent and regular abuse. Further studies about factors associated with this issue are needed.
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