Over 40 percent of Yemenis have been exposed to sexual abuse [Archives:2008/1207/Local News]

November 13 2008

By: Almigdad Mojalli
SANA'A, Nov. 12 ) A recent study conducted among students from four universities in the governorates Sana'a, Aden, Taiz and Hodeidah has revealed that 42.9 percent of students have been exposed to some type of sexual abuse during their childhood.

The study, started in 2006 and conducted by academics in collaboration with the High Council for Motherhood and Childhood, shows that a large number of Yemenis have been subject to abuse while growing up. Physical abuse ranked first with 84.4 percent, followed by sexual abuse with 42.9 percent.

The types of the sexual abuse were categorized in order of prevalence as the use of indecent sexual language, excessive touching, prolonged kissing, exposure of a child to excessive nudity and indecent exposure of genitalia.

Moreover, the rate of students who were exposed to sexual harassment was between 7.8 to 13 percent while the rate of the students who have been raped was 3.6 percent.

The results of the study, which was based only on childhood experiences, also indicated the various effects of the sexual abuse. They include psychological trauma, permanent or long-term physical effects on a child's reproductive organs and a hindrance in social interaction with others.

Fear of further abuse was the dominant consequence of sexual abuse with 33.7 percent. Up to 31.6 percent of the victims of sexual abuse are not able to trust others. Guilt was named as the third most common affect of sexual abuse with 21.2 percent, while the desire of revenge came fourth with 19.7 percent. The fear of isolation and loneliness, and the fear of engaging in intimate relations came as the fifth and sixth results.

The study targeted 1375 students, 51 percent of whom were male and 49 percent female. The age of the sample was between 19 and 24 years old.

The study aimed to determine the most prevalent type of sexual abuse, which is found to be the use of indecent sexual language, and to determine the risk factors for sexual abuse and consequences of on childhood and adulthood.

Further, the study aimed to specify the indicators of a sexually-abused child. Identifying potential aggressors, the study suggested policies and methods for parents and authorities to protect and prevent the abuse of children. The study is considered to be the first of its kind to shed light on child sexual abuse, child negligence and their consequences.