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Gender-based violence has serious consequences for the psychological, physical, and sexual well-being of both men and women. Various gender roles, attitudes, and practices in South Africa create an environment that fosters submission and silence in females and hegemony and coercion in males. One of the expressions of this power inequity is a high prevalence of forced sex, which in its turn is associated with higher risk of HIV infection. Boys also held a more positive view about forced sex than girls since they associated it more often with signs of love, as an appropriate way to satisfy sexual urges, and as acceptable if the girl was financially dependent on the boy.
The perception that peers and friends considered forced sex to be an effective way to punish a female partner was also more common among boys. On the other hand, boys were less knowledgeable about the health and legal consequences of forced sex, but no significant differences were found for other sociocognitive items, such as self-efficacy and behavioral intention items. Consequently, health education programs are needed to inform both boys and girls about the risks of forced sex, to convince boys and their friends about its inappropriateness and girls to empower themselves to avoid forced sex.
Rape, sexual coercion, and other forms of sexual violence are serious public health problems throughout the world. High rates of forced sex and other forms of sexual violence among women have been reported worldwide. Gender violence is prevalent in several countries Garcia-Moreno et al. Gender violence among South African adolescents has been documented extensively. Jewkes and Abrahams reported in their review an incidence of 2, incidents per , women per year, with coerced forms of sex being a common problem in schools, workplaces, and among peers.
Jewkes et al. Consequently, adolescent sexual health is regarded as among the most important health and development problems for South Africa Dunkle et al. HIV-positive South-African women were more likely to report physical partner abuse than their sero-negative peers Dunkle et al.
In South Africa, the major route of HIV infection is through heterosexual transmission, with the epidemic affecting adolescents and young adults disproportionately. The legitimacy of these coercive sexual experiences was reinforced by female peers who indicated that silence and submission was the appropriate response.