Prevalence and predictors of partner violence against women in the aftermath of war: A survey among couples in Northern Uganda
Violence against women that is perpetrated by an intimate partner prevails as one of the most widespread human rights violations in virtually all societies of the world. Women in resource-poor countries, in particular those affected by recent war, appear to be at high risk of experiencing partner violence. Although there has been a longstanding assumption that organised violence at a societal level is transmitted to an interpersonal level, little is known about the link between exposure to war and familial violence. We conducted an epidemiological survey in 2010 with 2nd-grade students and their male and female guardians from nine heavily war-affected communities in Northern Uganda employing structured interviews and standardized questionnaires. The present study analysed a subsample of 235 guardian couples from seven rural communities in order to determine the prevalence and predictors of current partner violence experienced by women in the context of the past war. Study results revealed a high prevalence of ongoing partner violence experienced by female partners. In the past year, 80% of women reported at least one type of verbal/psychological abuse, 71% were exposed to at least one type of physical abuse, 52% suffered isolation and 23% fell victim to sexual violence. Findings from linear regression analyses showed that women’s prior exposure to war-related traumatic events, women’s re-experiencing symptoms and men’s level of alcohol-related problems were associated with higher levels of partner violence against women. Differential effects of the predictor variables emerged with respect to different subtypes of partner violence. The findings suggest that partner violence against women constitutes a major problem in rural Northern Uganda. Programmes for the prevention and reduction of partner violence against women need to address high levels of hazardous drinking in men as well as women’s prior traumatisation. In addition, different patterns of partner violence should be taken into account.