A survey of girls and young women in the slums of Kampala, Uganda highlights the need for services to counter “the cumulative impact of victimizations, depression, and living conditions” and to address the social and health problems that stem from alcohol abuse, according to a new study led by researchers at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health.
Few studies of interpersonal violence have been conducted in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South America, where homicide rates appear to be among the highest in the world.
The study, “Girls and Young Women Living in the Slums of Kampala: Prevalence and Correlates of Physical and Sexual Violence Victimization” sought to quantify the extent of the impact on girls and young women and establish a foundation that can be used for developing prevention strategies in the capital of Uganda. The survey was part of a larger effort to examine the impact of alcohol marketing on youth in Uganda, which has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world.
Dr. Monica Swahn, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Public Health at Georgia State, was the lead author of the paper, which was published in the journal SAGE Open.
The study found that girls and young women who were raped were more likely to expect not to have enough money to support themselves, to die early, to be unhappy, and to have bad things happen to them in the future.
Researchers reported that being drunk “was a significant correlate of reporting multiple forms of violence as well as of rape specifically.” Previous studies by Dr. Swahn and her collaborators have found that alcohol marketing is pervasive in Uganda and is often targeted at youth.
The study involved a sample of 313 girls and women aged 14-24 who attended eight community drop-in centers across Kampala operated by Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL). Survey data was collected anonymously in private settings.
“Overall, the prevalence of physical fights (37 percent), being threatened or injured with a weapon (28 percent), and being raped (30 percent) was high and increased with age,” researchers wrote, noting that the findings are likely to under-estimate the magnitude of the problems surveyed.
The other co-authors are Dr. LeConté J. Dill an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center; Ms. Jane B. Palmier, a doctoral student at the Georgia State University School of Public Health; and Mr. Rogers Kasirye of the Uganda Youth Development Link in Kampala.
To learn more about Dr. Swahn’s work in Uganda, go to: goo.gl/Jl9vxo