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Prevalence and Attitude of Women to Spousal Physical Abuse in Pregnancy in a Niger Delta Community of Nigeria

Augustine Vincent Umoh, Gabriel Mathias Abah, Wilson Emurobohwo Ugege, Emmanuel Columba Inyangetoh.

Introduction: Spousal physical violence in pregnancy is a major public health and human rights concern. Identifying its prevalence and understanding the women’s attitude towards this phenomenon in our environment is key to developing strategies for effective intervention.
Methods: This was a cross sectional study of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), Uyo in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Information was collected using a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire instrument.
Results: The mean age of respondents was 28.72 ± 4.47 years with a range of 16 – 48 years. The prevalence of spousal physical violence in the current pregnancy was 10.3%. 45.2% of those who experienced violence in the current pregnancy also experienced violence in other pregnancies while 73.7% of those who reported spousal violence in previous pregnancies also experienced violence in the current pregnancy. There was a significant relationship between spousal physical violence and the woman’s number of deliveries/parity (x2 = 16.145, p=0.025), marital status (x2=11.105, p=0.025) and husband’s occupation (x2=12.786, p=0.047). About half of the respondents expressed the view that spousal violence was not excusable under any circumstance while 22.7% believed that it could be excused under certain circumstances. Also 50.0% of those who experienced physical violence in the current pregnancy expressed the view that physical violence can be excusable. Most of the women (65.8%) either kept the incidence of abuse secret or just did nothing. None reported to the police.
Conclusion: Spousal physical abuse is still prevalent in our society. There is need to enlighten the women on this phenomenon in order to get their cooperation towards its eradication.

Key words: Domestic violence, spousal abuse, antenatal care, abuse in pregnancy, Niger delta, Nigeria

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