Factors Associated with Physical Violence against Pregnant Women in Bangladesh

The study explored the magnitude of physical violence against pregnant women in Bangladesh and the factors associated with such violence.

Authors: Ruchira Tabassum Naved1 ([email protected]) and Lars Åke Persson2

(1) Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research, GPO Box 128, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh and (2) Maternal and Child Health, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, University Hospital, SE 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

Apart from being a gross violation against human rights, violence during pregnancy has many adverse consequences for a woman and her foetus. Still little research has been conducted on the factors associated with violence during pregnancy using population-based data.

The study explored the magnitude of physical violence against pregnant women in Bangladesh and the factors associated with such violence.

Data for the current analysis were drawn from a study conducted during 2000-2004 in rural and urban Bangladesh as part of the WHO multi-country study on domestic violence against women. All ever-pregnant women (n=2,553) covered by the population-based survey of reproductive-age women were included in the current analysis. Multilevel logistic regression models were used for the analyses. Approval of the Research and Ethical Review Committees of ICDDR,B: Centrre for Health and Population Research was obtained.

About 10-12% of ever-pregnant women reported being physically abused during pregnancy. In the urban area, women aged more than 15-19 years had husbands with an education beyond 10th grade, had higher spousal communication score, and were from the highest income quartile, were less likely to be abused during pregnancy. On the other hand, women whose fathers physically abused their mothers and husbands had a similar history, Muslim women, and women living in communities where worry about the level of crime in the area was more prevalent were more likely to be abused. History of abuse of each of the spouses’ mother by father and religion were positively associated with this violence in the rural area as well. Involvement of women in income earning was another risk factor. However, only perceived support from natal family in crisis and better spousal communication were negatively associated with abuse in pregnancy in this site.

The determinants of violence during pregnancy were not exactly the same in urban and rural areas, which needs to be taken into account in designing interventions. Male education and spousal communication need to be promoted for addressing this violence. An important message for advocacy is that violence against women is a learnt behaviour, and presence of this violence in family increases the likelihood of generational transmission.

Acknowledgements: The study used the protocol and questionnaire developed by the WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence.

Published: 05 Feb 2006

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