High rate of partner violence during pregnancy in eastern Ethiopia: Findings from a facility-based study

PLoS One. 2020 Jun 4;15(6):e0233907. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0233907. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: Intimate partner violence during pregnancy can contribute to maternal mortality and morbidity by limiting women's ability to receive maternal health services including antenatal care and skilled delivery care. In Ethiopia, evidence regarding intimate partner violence during pregnancy is limited, and no previous studies have been conducted in the Harari region. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the prevalence and associated factors of intimate partner violence during pregnancy among women who had given birth in public hospitals in Harari regional state, eastern Ethiopia.

Methods: A hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted from November 2018 to April 2019 among women who had given birth in public hospitals in Harari regional state, East Ethiopia. A systematic random sampling method was employed to select 648 participants. Data were collected using an interviewer-administered standardized questionnaire based on the World Health Organization Multi-Country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women survey. Crude and adjusted odds ratios with respective confidence intervals were computed. Variables with a p-value of ≤0.05 were considered to have a significant association with intimate partner violence during pregnancy.

Results: The prevalence of intimate partner violence during the most recent pregnancy was found to be 39.81%. Furthermore, the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual violence were found to be 25.93%, 25.62% and 3.7%, respectively. Longer duration of marriage (adjusted odds ratio = 1.68, 95% confidence interval = 1.01-2.79), most recent pregnancy being unplanned (adjusted odds ratio = 1.55, 95% confidence interval = 1.03-2.34), experiencing controlling behaviour by a partner, (adjusted odds ratio = 2.23, 95% confidence interval = 1.46-3.40) and having an attitude that justifies intimate partner violence (adjusted odds ratio = 1.60, 95% confidence interval = 1.09-2.36) were associated with experiencing intimate partner violence.

Conclusion: The prevalence of intimate partner violence during pregnancy was found to be high. Pregnancy monitoring programs, which can detect and intervene with regard to partner's controlling behaviors and women's perception regarding justification of intimate partner violence, especially in those women with an unplanned pregnancy, could help to reduce intimate partner violence during pregnancy. Further, changing social norms that condone violence through advocacy and awareness creation might help in preventing partner violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Male
  • Physical Abuse
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Sex Offenses
  • Sexual Partners
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouse Abuse*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

We received financial support as part of regular support for research student from the University of Newcastle, Australia, to support some of our data collection and travel fees. The funder had no role in study design, data collection, and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.