Partner violence and women’s health
Intimate-partner violence and reproductive health
Violence during pregnancy
The proportion of ever-pregnant women physically abused during at least one pregnancy exceeded 5% in 11 of the 15 settings. The lowest figure was 1% in Japan, and the highest was 28% in provincial Peru. Between a quarter and half of the women who were physically abused during pregnancy were kicked or punched in the abdomen (Figure 12). In all settings but one, between 11% and 44% of ever-abused ever-pregnant women reported being assaulted during pregnancy; in the exception, Japan, the figure was 8%. In all sites, over 90% were abused by the biological father of the child the woman was carrying, most of whom were living with the woman at the time.
While the majority of those beaten during pregnancy had experienced physical violence before, between 13% (Ethiopia) and approximately 50% (urban Brazil and Serbia and Montenegro) said they were beaten for the first time during pregnancy.
"He hit me in the belly and made me miscarry two babies – identical or fraternal twins, I don’t know. I went to the Loayza hospital with heavy bleeding and they cleaned me up."
-Woman interviewed in urban Peru
The majority of women who experienced violence both before and during a pregnancy in all sites reported that, during the last pregnancy in which they were abused, the violence was the same or somewhat less severe or frequent than before the pregnancy. The results support findings from both developing and industrialized countries that pregnancy can be a time of protection from violence, but this is not consistent across all cultures (19).
Miscarriages and induced abortions
In the majority of settings, ever-pregnant women who had experienced physical or sexual partner violence, or both, reported more induced abortions. However, the difference was not statistically significant in provincial Bangladesh, Namibia, and Samoa, where very few abortions were reported at all. Abused women were also more likely to report having had a miscarriage than women who had never experienced partner violence.
Use of antenatal and postnatal health services
In most settings there was no difference in the use of antenatal services by abused and non-abused women who had had a live birth in the 5 years preceding the interview. However, in urban Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and provincial United Republic of Tanzania, women who were ever physically or sexually abused by their partner were significantly less likely to have attended an antenatal service for the most recent live birth. There was more variation in the levels of contact with postnatal services between countries. In the urban sites in Bangladesh, Brazil, Peru, and Thailand, and in the provincial site in the United Republic of Tanzania, women who reported partner violence were significantly less likely to have received postnatal care for their most recent live birth than women who did not report partner violence.