Incidence of sexual violence among recently arrived asylum-seeking women in France: a retrospective cohort study

Elsevier, The Lancet Regional Health - Europe, Volume 34, November 2023
Khouani J., Landrin M., Boulakia R.C., Tahtah S., Gentile G., Desrues A. et al.

Background: The prevention of sexual violence (SV) occurring shortly after arrival in host countries towards female asylum seekers requires knowledge about its incidence. We aimed to determine the incidence of SV and its associated factors during the past year of living in France among asylum-seeking females who had arrived more than one year earlier but less than two years. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using a life-event survey of asylum-seeking females who had been registered in southern France by the Office for Immigration for more than one year but less than two. The primary outcome was the occurrence of SV during the past year, weighted by the deviation in age and geographical origin of our sample from all females registered. The nature of SV was noted, and associated factors were explored by a logistic regression model. Findings: Between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, 273 females were included. Eighty-four females experienced SV during the past year of living in France (26.3% weighted [95% CI, 24–28.8]), 17 of whom were raped (4.8% weighted [95% CI, 3.7–6.1]). Being a victim of SV prior to arrival in France (202, 75.7%) was associated with the occurrence of SV after arrival (OR = 4.6 [95% CI, 1.8–11.3]). Lack of support for accommodation was associated with se.xual assault (OR = 2.6 [95% CI, 1.3–5.1]). Interpretation: The months following arrival in a European host country among asylum-seeking females appear to be a period of high incidence of SV; even higher for those who previously experienced SV prior to arrival. Reception conditions without support for accommodation seem to increase exposure to sexual assault. Funding: DGOS-GIRCI.