Article Text

Intimate partner violence among women with and without disabilities: a pooled analysis of baseline data from seven violence-prevention programmes
  1. Esnat Chirwa1,2,
  2. Rachel Jewkes1,
  3. Ingrid Van Der Heijden1,
  4. Kristin Dunkle1
  1. 1Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, South Africa
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kristin Dunkle; kristin.dunkle{at}


Introduction Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health and human rights violation which impacts approximately one in three women worldwide. Some existing evidence suggests that women with disabilities are at higher risk of IPV, but is largely limited in geographical scope to the Global North, and comparison across settings has been hampered by inconsistent measurement of both IPV and disability.

Methods Pooled analysis of baseline data from 8549 adult women participating in seven IPV prevention studies in five countries across Africa and Asia that used collaborative, comparative measurement strategies to assess both disability and IPV.

Results After adjusting for age, women with disabilities were more likely to experience past 12-month physical IPV (adjusted OR (aOR)=1.79; 95% CI 1.49 to 2.17), sexual IPV (aOR=1.98; 95% CI 1.36 to 2.89), emotional IPV (aOR=1.84; 95% CI 1.49 to 2.27) and economic IPV (aOR=1.66; 95% CI 1.45 to 1.89), with an overall association between disability and past 12-month physical/sexual IPV of aOR=1.93 (95% CI 1.52 to 2.46). Compared to women without disability, women with moderate and severe disability showed a trend of increasing risk of IPV in the past 12 months for each of physical, sexual, emotional and economic IPV. Overall, both women with moderate disability (aOR=1.86, 95% CI 1.57 to 2.21) and women with severe disability (aOR=2.63; 95% CI 1.95 to 3.55) were significantly more likely to experience any form of IPV when compared with women without disability.

Conclusion Women with disabilities are at increased risk of past-year IPV compared to women without disabilities across a range of settings in the Global South, and the risk of IPV increases with increasing severity of disability. IPV prevention and response efforts in these settings must find ways to include and address the needs of women with disabilities, including increased outreach and improved accessibility of programmes.

  • public health
  • other study design
  • descriptive study
  • epidemiology

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  • Handling editor Sanne Peters

  • Contributors EC co-conceptualised the paper, led the data analysis, participated in interpretation of the findings and co-wrote the manuscript. RJ obtained the funding and directed the What Works Global Programme, co-conceptualised this paper and contributed to the data analysis, interpretation of the findings and preparation of the manuscript. IVDH led the literature review, participated in interpretation of the findings and co-wrote the manuscript. KD co-conceptualised the paper, oversaw and participated in the data analysis, led interpretation of the findings and co-wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding All studies presented, as well as this pooled analysis of the data, were funded through the What Works To Prevent Violence? A Global Programme on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). However, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the department’s official policies and the funders had no role in study design; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of data; writing of the report; or the decision to submit the paper for publication. Funding was managed by the South African Medical Research Council.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval All studies received approval from appropriate ethical review boards affiliated with the study sites and researcher institutions; the Rwandan research was additionally approved by the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement De-identified individual participant data for Sammanit Jeevan (Nepal), Stepping Stones and Creating Futures (South Africa), Women for Women International (Afghanistan), Evaluation of the Rural Response System (Ghana), and Change Starts at Home (Nepal) are available to anyone who wishes to access the data for any purpose at De-identified individual participant data from the Indashyikirwa couples cohort and community surveys (Rwanda) are available from the corresponding author, but may require permission from the Rwandan Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) before transfer.

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