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Intimate partner violence in 46 low-income and middle-income countries: an appraisal of the most vulnerable groups of women using national health surveys
  1. Carolina V N Coll1,
  2. Fernanda Ewerling1,
  3. Claudia García-Moreno2,
  4. Franciele Hellwig1,
  5. Aluisio J D Barros1
  1. 1International Center for Equity in Health, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, RS, Brazil
  2. 2Reproductive Health and Research, WHO, Geneve, GE, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Carolina V N Coll; ccoll{at}


Introduction Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is a critical public health issue that transcends social and economic boundaries and considered to be a major obstacle to the progress towards the 2030 women, children and adolescents’ health goals in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Standardised IPV measures have been increasingly incorporated into Demographic and Health Surveys carried out in LMICs. Routine reporting and disaggregated analyses at country level are essential to identify populational subgroups that are particularly vulnerable to IPV exposure.

Methods We examined data from 46 countries with surveys carried out between 2010 and 2017 to assess the prevalence and inequalities in recent psychological, physical and sexual IPV among ever-partnered women aged 15–49 years. Inequalities were assessed by disaggregating the data according to household wealth, women’s age, women’s empowerment level, polygyny status of the relationship and area of residence.

Results National levels of reported IPV varied widely across countries—from less than 5% in Armenia and Comoros to more than 40% in Afghanistan. Huge inequalities within countries were also observed. Generally, richer and more empowered women reported less IPV, as well as those whose partners had no cowives. Different patterns across countries were observed according to women’s age and area of residence but in most cases younger women and those living in rural areas tend to be more exposed to IPV.

Conclusion The present study advances the current knowledge by providing a global panorama of the prevalence of different forms of IPV across LMICs, helping the identification of the most vulnerable groups of women and for future monitoring of leaving no one behind towards achieving the elimination of all forms of violence among women and girls.

  • epidemiology
  • public health
  • community-based survey

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors CVNC and AJDB conceptualised the study. CVNC analysed the data and drafted the manuscript with inputs from AJDB and CG-M. FE and FH contributed to the data analyses. The final draft was revised, commented and approved by all authors.

  • Funding This study was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1148933) and Wellcome Trust (101815/Z/13/Z).

  • Disclaimer This article is part of a series proposed by the Countdown to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) hosted by the WHO and commissioned by The BMJ, which peer reviewed, edited and made the decisions to publish. Open access fees are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PMNCH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. The data used in this manuscript are publicly available, anonymised and geographically scrambled to ensure confidentiality. More information on DHS can be found at, where survey datasets can be downloaded.

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