Women's Status and Intimate Partner Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

J Interpers Violence. 2015 Sep;30(14):2526-40. doi: 10.1177/0886260514553118. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Women's greatest risk of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may come from an intimate partner, but few studies have analyzed context-specific risk and protective factors for intimate partner violence (IPV) in the DRC. This study analyzed data from the most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in Congo to assess risk and protective factors for IPV and the role of women's status, a factor implicated in prior IPV research. Using a sample of 1,821 married or cohabiting women between the ages of 15 and 49, four logistic regression models tested relationships between physical, sexual, emotional, or any violence and independent variables of interest. Results indicated that 68.2% of respondents had experienced at least one of the three types of IPV. An attitude of acceptance toward spousal violence was associated with increased risk for physical and emotional IPV. Women who were the only wife of their husband were half as likely to experience IPV compared with women whose husbands had other wives or women who did not know their husbands' marital status. Partner's use of alcohol was associated with nearly doubled risk for both physical and sexual IPV. The study's results indicate that IPV occurs frequently and is justified as acceptable by many women in the DRC. Findings suggest that awareness-raising campaigns may be a helpful intervention and that partner characteristics should be considered when assessing women's risk for IPV.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo; Demographic and Health Surveys; domestic violence; emotional violence; intimate partner violence; physical violence; risk and protective factors; sexual violence; spousal violence; women’s status.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Battered Women / psychology
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / prevention & control*
  • Marital Status
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control
  • Women's Health
  • Young Adult