Purpose: Child marriage (before 18 years) is widely prevalent in Pakistan, and disproportionately affects young girls in rural, low-income, and poorly educated households. Our study aims to determine the associations between child marriage and controlling behaviors (CB) and spousal violence by husbands against adolescent and young women in Pakistan beyond those attributed to social vulnerabilities.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, 2012-2013, of currently married women aged 15-24 years who had participated in the domestic violence module (n = 589, 22.5% [589/2,615] of the subsample aged 15-24 years) to identify differences in CB and spousal violence experiences between early (<18 years) and adult (≥18 years) ages at marriage. Associations between child marriage and CB and spousal violence by husband were assessed by calculating adjusted odds ratios (AOR) using logistic regression models after controlling for demographics, social equity indicators (education, wealth index, and rural residence), spousal age gap, and husband's education.
Results: Overall, 47.8% of currently married women aged 15-24 years in Pakistan were married before the age of 18 years. About one third of women aged 15-24 years in Pakistan reported experiencing CB (31.8%) and spousal violence (31.1%) by their husbands. Compared with adult marriage, child marriage was significantly associated with CB (AOR = 1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.042-2.157), any form of spousal violence (physical or emotional) (AOR = 2.03; 95% CI, 1.392-2.969), emotional violence (AOR = 1.86; 95% CI, 1.254-2.767), and physical violence (AOR = 2.44; 95% CI, 1.582-3.760), including severe physical violence (AOR = 2.57; 95% CI, 1.122-5.872).
Conclusions: Effective interventions are needed to prevent child marriages and raise awareness about their negative consequences, with special reference to spousal violence.
Keywords: Child marriage; Pakistan; Partner; Spouse; Violence; Women.
Copyright © 2014 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.