Background: This population-based study investigated the different forms, magnitude and risk factors of men's violence against women in intimate relationships in a rural part of northern Vietnam and whether a difference in risk factors were at hand for the different forms of violence. Vietnam has undergone a rapid transition in the last 20 years, moving towards a more equal situation for men and women however, Confucian doctrine is still strong and little is known about men's violence against women within the Vietnamese family.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional population-based study that used a questionnaire developed by the World Health Organisation for investigating women's health and violence against women in different settings. Face-to face structured interviewing was performed and 883 married women, aged 17 to 60 participated. Bi- and multivariate analyses was used for risk factor assessment.
Results: The lifetime prevalence of physical violence was 30.9 percent and past year prevalence was 8.3 per cent, while the corresponding figures for physical and sexual violence combined was 32.7 and 9.2 percent. The lifetime prevalence was highest for psychological abuse (27.9 percent) as a single entity. In most cases the violence was of a severe nature and exercised as repeated acts over time. Woman's low educational level, husband's low education, low household income and the husband having more than one wife/partner were risk factors for lifetime and past year physical/sexual violence. The pattern of factors associated with psychological abuse alone was however different. Husband's low professional status and women's intermediate level of education appeared as risk factors.
Conclusion: Men's violence against women in intimate relationships is commonly occurring in rural Vietnam. There is an obvious need of preventive and treatment activities. Our findings point at that pure psychological abuse is different from physical/sexual violence in terms of differing characteristics of the perpetrators and it might be that also different strategies are needed to reduce and prevent this violence.