Prevalence and determinants of intimate partner violence against mothers of children under-five years in Central Malawi

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Chilanga, Emmanuel
Collin-Vezina, Delphine
Khan, Mohammad N
Riley, Liam
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Abstract Background Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is a global human rights violation and a public health problem. The phenomenon is linked to adverse health effects for women and children. Mothers of young children in Malawi can be particularly at risk because of gender-based power imbalances. The objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence and the risk factors of IPV against mothers of children under-five years of age in rural Malawi. Methods A multistage, cross-sectional study design was used. A sample of 538 mothers of young children was randomly selected from postnatal clinics in Dowa district. The WHO’s Violence against women screening instrument was used to collect data. Logistic regressions were used to determine risk factors that were associated with IPV against mothers. Results Overall prevalence of all four forms of IPV against mothers of under-five children was 60.2%. The prevalence of IPV controlling behavior, psychological, physical, and sexual violence were 74.7, 49.4, 43.7 and 73.2% respectively. In multivariate analyses, mothers whose partners had extra marital affairs were more likely to experience controlling behavior (AOR: 4.97, 95% CI: 2.59–8.55, P = 0.001), psychological (AOR: 2.14, 95% CI: 1.486–3.472, P = 0.001) and physical (AOR: 2.29, 95% CI: 1.48–3.94, P = 0.001) violence than mothers whose partners did not have extra marital affairs. Mothers whose partners consume alcohol were more likely to experience sexual violence (AOR: 2.00, 95% CI: 1.17–3.41, P = 0.001) than mothers whose partners did not drink. Finally, mothers who spent more than 30 min drawing water were at greater risk of experiencing IPV than mothers who spent less than 30 min. Conclusion This study found a significantly higher prevalence of IPV against mothers of under-five children in rural Malawi compared to women in the general population. Micro and macro-level programs aimed at mitigating the partners’ potential risk behaviors identified in this study are suggested. Public health programs that support increased household access to safe water are also recommended to help undermine IPV against mothers.
BMC Public Health. 2020 Dec 02;20(1):1848