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Gender-based violence is a key health risk for women globally and in South Africa.

The authors analyzed data from 1,395 interviews with women attending antenatal clinics in Soweto, South Africa, between November 2001 and April 2002 to estimate the prevalence of physical/sexual partner violence (55.5%), adult sexual assault by nonpartners (7.9%), child sexual assault (8.0%), and forced first intercourse (7.3%).

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Received for publication May 1, 2003; accepted for publication February 5, 2004.

Gender-based violence is widely recognized as an important public health problem, both because of the acute morbidity and mortality associated with assault and because of its longer-term impact on women’s health, including chronic pain, gynecologic problems, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide (1).

Gaining a better understanding of the age at onset is important for designing studies that identify risk factors for violence and properly targeting prevention programs.

Experience of violence in childhood, particularly sexual violence, has been identified as a risk factor for experiencing violence in adulthood, a phenomenon known as “revictimization” (6–8).

All pregnant women presenting for care in these clinics were offered voluntary counseling and testing for HIV during the initial part of their visit.

Women aged 16 or more years who elected to have an HIV test were potentially eligible for our study.

This suggests that it may be more appropriate to view physical and sexual violence perpetrated by intimate partners as different manifestations of a single phenomenon, with sexual violence perpetrated by nonpartners considered separately.

Age cutpoints used to distinguish between child and adult experiences of violence have ranged from 13 years to 18 years of age (6), leading to ambiguity regarding whether violence in teenage years should be considered as exposure or outcome when assessing revictimization.

In particular, comparatively little work has distinguished sexual assaults by male partners from sexual assaults by other men.

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