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Women with disabilities are among the most marginalized and neglected groups of people in developing countries. This study examined the association between disability status and ever experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) among women in Uganda, with disability status as a key explanatory variable. The determinants of emotional, physical, sexual, and any intimate partner violence were assessed among women with disabilities compared with women without disabilities. In both cases, we adjusted for women’s characteristics and partners’ behavioral factors.
The study, which was based on data from the 2016 Uganda Demographic Survey (UDHS), used a weighted sample of 6,879 cases of currently married and ever-married women selected for the survey’s domestic violence module. We used chi-squared tests and multivariate logistic regressions to examine the determinants of IPV, with disability status as the main explanatory variable and, thereafter, determinants by disability status. Other key explanatory variables included witnessing parental violence and spousal behavioral factors.
Findings show that the unadjusted associations between emotional, physical, and sexual violence and disability status were statistically significant, in that women with disabilities had higher odds of experiencing the three forms of IPV compared with women without disabilities. The odds of IPV remained high and significant for emotional and sexual violence after adjusting for women’s characteristics. Certain spousal behaviors, namely getting drunk and controlling their partners, had a stronger influence and consistently increased the odds of all three forms of IPV for women with or without disabilities. Women’s witnessing parental violence and fearing their spouses also consistently increased the odds of emotional and sexual IPV both for women without disabilities and with disabilities. Additional risk factors for women without disabilities were urban residence, for emotional IPV; and Catholic religion, residence in Central region, and agricultural or manual work, for sexual IPV.
In the Ugandan context, key determinants of emotional, physical, and sexual intimate partner violence among women, with or without disabilities, are mainly associated with partners’ behaviors and a history of exposure to parental IPV. Preventive measures against IPV should prioritize these factors. Apart from these, determinants of the different forms of intimate partner violence vary by women’s disability status; therefore, each group should be considered separately. For women without disabilities, additional attention should be paid to emotional IPV among urban residents and to sexual IPV among women in agricultural and manual work, Catholics, and residents of Central region.