Sexual Violence Against Women

Impact indicator, Outcome indicator

Indicator Phrasing

% of women aged 15 - 49 who experienced sexual violence in the past 12 months
% de femmes âgées de 15 à 49 ans victimes de violence sexuelle au cours des 12 derniers mois
% žen ve věku 15 - 49 let, které během posledních 12 měsíců byly nuceny k sexu

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of women aged 15 - 49 who experienced sexual violence in the past 12 months

French: % de femmes âgées de 15 à 49 ans victimes de violence sexuelle au cours des 12 derniers mois

Czech: % žen ve věku 15 - 49 let, které během posledních 12 měsíců byly nuceny k sexu

What is its purpose?

Freedom from violence is a critical aspect of women’s empowerment and greater gender equality. This indicator therefore measures the proportion of women who in the past 12 months experienced sexual violence. Considering how sensitive the collection of the data required for this indicator is, this indicator should be used only in interventions that are specifically addressing the prevention and response to sexual violence.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews with a representative sample of women aged 15 - 49 years:



Introduction: Life often brings both good and bad moments. I would now like to ask you some questions about the bad moments that life sometimes brings. If anyone comes near us I will change the topic of our interview. I would again like to assure you that your answers will be kept secret, and that you do not have to answer any questions that you do not want to. May I continue?


Q1: In the past 12 months, has someone physically forced you to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?


Q2: In the past 12 months, did you ever have sexual intercourse you did not want because you were afraid of what the person might do?


Q3: In the past 12 months, did someone ever force you to do something sexual that you found degrading or humiliating?


A1-3: yes / no / did not respond



In all instances where the answer is YES, it is recommended (though not mandatory) that you also ask the following two questions:


Q4: In the past 12 months, would you say that this has happened once, a few times or many times?

A4: once / a few times / many times / did not respond


Q5: Was this done to you by a family member or by a friend or by someone you knew or by a stranger? You do not need to tell me any name and I assure you that I will not share your response with anyone living in this area.


1) male member of immediate or extended family

2) friend

3) someone she knew

4) stranger

5) did not respond



To calculate the indicator’s value:

  1) exclude those respondents who did not report any incidence of sexual violence but refused or could not respond to one or more questions

  2) divide the number of the remaining respondents who replied “yes” to one or more of the questions (Q1-3) by the total number of respondents (do not count those you excluded in step 1)

  3) multiply the result by 100


Important Comments

1) Measuring the prevalence of sexual violence is very sensitive and poses risks to the respondent as well as to the enumerator. Furthermore, women might find it difficult or not be willing to report on the incidence of sexual violence. As a very minimum, adopt the following measures:

   - read and apply the Ethical and Safety Guidelines for Implementing the DHS Domestic Violence Module (see below)

   - ensure that all enumerators are women that were trained in the principles of gender-sensitive interviewing and are not from the same communities as the interviewees

   - instruct the enumerators to ensure that the interviews are conducted in a place where no one else can hear or observe the respondent (even from a neighbouring room or from behind a wall); if the enumerators cannot ensure complete privacy, they should skip this part and move to less sensitive parts of the questionnaire

   - instruct the enumerators to re-assure the respondent about the confidentiality of her answers

   - train the enumerators to quickly switch the topic if during the interview someone comes near the respondent

   - train the enumerators in how to close the topic and move to the next part of your survey in a sensitive manner

   - provide the enumerators with the lists of service-providers (and their services) that can provide support to respondents experiencing violence

   - ensure that there is emotional support available for the enumerators


2) Consider including an additional question assessing whether the woman that suffered from sexual violence has told someone about it and if so, who (use general categories, such as “a friend” – do not ask about specific people or names).


3) If required for your project’s M&E purposes, you can also extend the reference period - for example, to “in the past 2 years” (however, the standard period commonly used in surveys is 12 months).


4) Disaggregate the data by the respondent’s age group, ethnicity, and other factors depending on the local context.  


5) In order to accurately record even smaller changes in the baseline and endline values of this indicator, consider using a larger than usual sample size (so that the margin of error is not larger than 3-4 percentage points).


6) The guidance for this indicator was developed based on WHO (2005) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women and Oxfam (2017) Measuring Women’s Empowerment.


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