Intimate partner violence against married and cohabiting women in sub-Saharan Africa: does sexual autonomy matter?

Aboagye, Richard Gyan, Dadzie, Louis Kobina, Arthur-Holmes, Francis, Okyere, Joshua, Agbaglo, Ebenezer, Ahinkorah, Bright Opoku, and Seidu, Abdul-Aziz (2022) Intimate partner violence against married and cohabiting women in sub-Saharan Africa: does sexual autonomy matter? Reproductive Health, 19 (1). 79.

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Background: Literature shows that women’s sexual autonomy, which refers to women’s capacity to refuse sex and ask a partner to use condom, has significant implications on the sexual and reproductive health outcomes and sexual-and-gender based violence. Nevertheless, there is scarcity of empirical evidence to support the association between women’s sexual autonomy and intimate partner violence (IPV) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: Data for the study were extracted from the recent Demographic and Health Surveys in 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2010 and 2019. Bivariable and multivariable binary logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association between sexual autonomy and IPV in all the studied countries. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

Results: The pooled prevalence of IPV and sexual autonomy in the 24 countries were 38.5% and 73.0% respectively. Overall, the odds of exposure to IPV were higher among women with sexual autonomy, compared to those without sexual autonomy even after controlling for covariates (age, level of education, marital status, current working status, place of residence, wealth quintile and media exposure). At the country-level, women from Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Cote d’lvoire, Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Kenya, Comoros, Zambia, and South Africa who had sexual autonomy were more likely to experience IPV whilst those in Burundi were less likely to experience IPV. The study showed that sexual autonomy increases women’s exposure to IPV and this occurred in many countries except Burundi where women with sexual autonomy were less likely to experience IPV.

Conclusion: The findings highlight the need for serious programs and policies to fight against IPV in the sub-region. Additionally, laws need to be passed and implemented, with law enforcement agencies provided with the necessary resources to reduce intimate partner violence among women with sexual autonomy.

Item ID: 74445
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1742-4755
Keywords: Demographic and Health Survey, Intimate partner violence, Sexual autonomy, Sub-Saharan Africa
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2022 00:34
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 70%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420699 Public health not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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