Prevalence of violence against pregnant women in Abeokuta, Nigeria

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2008 Aug;48(4):405-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2008.00868.x.


Aim: To determine the prevalence of violence to pregnant women within 12 months prior to and during the current pregnancy.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of 534 pregnant women attending three secondary and one tertiary health facility in Abeokuta, Nigeria using semistructured interviewer-administered questionnaires.

Results: Prevalence of violence within 12 months prior to pregnancy was 14.2%. Polygamous union, low level of education in both woman and partner and consumption of alcohol by partners were significant (P < 0.05) risk factors of violence prior to pregnancy. Verbal abuse was the most common (66.2%) type of abuse. Others included flogging (10.8%), slaps (9.5%), threats of violence (6.8%) and forced sexual intercourse (2.7%). The perpetrators were often husbands (65.8%) and the parents (15.8%). Some 2.3% of pregnant women had experienced violence during current pregnancy. Low level of education was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with experiencing violence during pregnancy. Although almost 25% of the pregnancies were unplanned, this was not significantly associated with experiencing violence (P > 0.05). There were similarities in the perpetrators and forms of violence experienced before and during pregnancy, with partners being the most common perpetrators.

Conclusion: Gender-based violence is common in our environment. Health-care providers should routinely screen for gender-based violence during antenatal visits in order to protect the health of both mother and child.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult