Intimate partner violence and social connection among married women in rural Bangladesh

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2021 Dec;75(12):1202-1207. doi: 10.1136/jech-2020-214843. Epub 2021 May 28.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is high among married women in Bangladesh. Social isolation is a well-established correlate of women's exposure to IPV, but the role of such factors in low-income and middle-income countries is not well understood. In this study, we explore whether social connection is protective against IPV among married women in rural Bangladesh.

Methods: Data were drawn from a multistage, stratified, population-based longitudinal sample of 3355 married women in rural Bangladesh, who were surveyed on individual and contextual risk factors of IPV. Negative binomial regression models were used to estimate the association between three different domains of social connection (natal family contact, female companionship and instrumental social support), measured at baseline in 2013, and the risk of three different forms of IPV (psychological, physical and sexual), approximately 10 months later, adjusted for woman's level of education, spouse's level of education, level of household wealth, age and age of marriage.

Results: Adjusted models showed that instrumental social support was associated with a lower risk of past year psychological IPV (risk ratio (RR)=0.84, 95% CI 0.769 to 0.914), sexual IPV (RR=0.90, 95% CI 0.822 to 0.997) and physical IPV (RR=0.81, 95% CI 0.718 to 0.937). Natal family contact was also associated with a lower risk of each type of IPV, but not in a graded fashion. Less consistent associations were observed with female companionship.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that social connection, particularly in the form of instrumental support, may protect married women in rural Bangladesh from experiencing IPV.

Keywords: developing countr; international health; marital status; social epidemiology; violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Marriage*
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population