Women's Human Rights
Reported intimate partner violence amongst women attending a public hospital in Botswana
Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is common worldwide and occurs across social,
economic, religious and cultural groups. This makes it an important public health issue for health
care providers. In South Africa, the problem of violence against women is complex and it has social
and public health consequences. The paucity of data on IPV is related to underreporting and a lack
of screening of this form of violence in health care settings.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of IPV and explore the risk factors
associated with this type of violence against women who visited a public hospital in Botswana.
Method: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted among randomly sampled adult
women aged 21 years and older, during their hospital visits in 2007. Data were obtained by means of
structured interviews, after obtaining written and signed, informed consent from each participant.
Results: A total of 320 women participated in this study. Almost half (49.7%) reported having had
an experience of IPV in one form or another at some point in their lifetime, while 68 (21.2%) reported
a recent incident of abuse by their partners in the past year. Experiences of IPV were predominantly
reported by women aged 21 – 30 years (122; 38%). Most of the allegedly abused participants were
single (173; 54%) and unemployed (140; 44%). Significant associations were found between alcohol
use by participants’ male intimate partners (χ2 = 17.318; p = 0.001) and IPV, as well as cigarette
smoking (χ2 = 17.318; p = 0.001) and IPV.
Conclusion: The prevalence of alleged IPV in Botswana is relatively high (49.7%), especially among
young adult women, but the prevalence of reported IPV is low (13.2%). It is essential that women are
screened regularly in the country’s public and private health care settings for IPV.
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