Introduction: While sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is recognized as an important
factor driving the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, attitudes toward and prevalence of
SGBV within sub-Saharan African military populations are unknown. Data on SGBV were collected
from military service members of nine sub-Saharan African militaries. Attitudes related to SGBV
and characteristics of those who commit and experience SGBV are reported.
Methods: Data for 8815 service members (8165 men and 650 women) aged 18 years or older who
voluntarily participated in the Seroprevalence and Behavioral Epidemiology Risk Surveys from
2009 to 2014 were included in this secondary data analysis. Data were collected on demographics,
HIV prevalence, SGBV attitudes, and experiences. Descriptive and bivariate statistical analyses
Results: 5% of men and 9% of women reported experiencing SGBV, and 6% of men reported they
had ever committed SGBV. Men and women who had experienced SGBV were significantly more
likely to agree with negative gender attitudes toward SGBV, and the majority of those who reported
experiencing SGBV reported that SGBV was committed by someone outside of the military.
Conclusion: This is the first study to examine SGBV in sub-Saharan military populations during periods
of limited conflict. It provides evidence that SGBV is experienced by both male and female
service members at rates not typically found in previous research examining SGBV in other military
populations. A better understanding of SGBV in sub-Saharan military service members is necessary
to ensure appropriate services and interventions are part of the military infrastructure.