Objective: To estimate the prevalence of physical and/or sexual violence by intimate partners and factors associated with this, in different sociocultural contexts.
Methods: This cross-sectional study formed part of the 'WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women'. It consisted of representative samples of women from the municipality of São Paulo (Southeastern Brazil) and from the Zona da Mata of Pernambuco (Northeastern Brazil), this latter is a region with more traditional gender norms. Interviews were conducted in the homes of 940 women in São Paulo and 1,188 in the Zona da Mata, in the years 2000-1. The women were aged 15 to 49 years and had all had at least one affective-sexual partnership with a man during their lifetimes. Three sets of factors were constructed, corresponding to hierarchically organized categories: sociodemographic, family and female autonomy/submission characteristics. Hierarchical logistic regression was used to analyze factors associated with intimate partner violence at each location.
Results: A prevalence of 28.9% was found in Sao Paulo (95% CI 26.0;31.8) and 36.9% (95% CI 34.1;39.6) in Zona da Mata. Up to eight years of schooling, conjugal physical violence between the women's parents, sexual abuse during childhood, five or more pregnancies and drinking problems were associated with intimate partner violence at both locations. Financial autonomy for the woman, informal partnership, age and consent to the first sexual intercourse were associated with higher rates only in Zona da Mata. The socioeconomic characteristics that presented associations in the first category were mediated by other factors in the final model.
Conclusions: The findings show the relativization of socioeconomic factors in relation to other factors, particularly those representing gender attributes. Sociocultural differences were found between the two locations, and these were reflected in the associated factors.