Sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress among African female refugees and migrants in South Africa

  • Mhlongo M
  • Tomita A
  • Thela L
  • et al.
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Background While there is considerable research in developed countries on the nature and extent of post-traumatic stress among refugees and migrants, few report on female Africans migrating within Africa. Aim The aim of this study was to investigate the association between exposure to traumatic life events and post-traumatic stress disorder risk in refugees and migrants in Durban, South Africa, with specific focus on sexual trauma events among women. Methods Interviews were conducted on 157 consenting non-South African adults using a sociodemographic questionnaire, Life Events Checklist (documenting traumatic events experienced) and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (measuring post-traumatic symptomatology). Associations between total number of traumatic events and post-traumatic stress were explored using adjusted regression models. Results The results of one model indicated that greater numbers of traumatic life events experienced by women were associated with raised odds of post-traumatic stress disorder risk (β = 1.48; p < 0.001). Another model indicated that exposure to sexual trauma events were associated with greater odds of post-traumatic stress disorder risk (β = 4.09; p = 0.02). Conclusion Our findings highlight the critical importance of mental health service for females with history of sexual traumatic events for this vulnerable population.




Mhlongo, M. D., Tomita, A., Thela, L., Maharaj, V., & Burns, J. K. (2018). Sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress among African female refugees and migrants in South Africa. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 24(0).

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