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The prevalence and predictors of intimate partner violence among pregnant women attending a midwife and obstetrics unit in the Western Cape

  • M. Malan (a1), M.F. Spedding (a1) and K. Sorsdahl (a1)

Intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy is prevalent across the world, but more so in low- and middle-income countries. It is associated with various adverse outcomes for mothers and infants. This study sought to determine the prevalence and predictors of IPV among pregnant women attending one midwife and obstetrics unit (MOU) in the Western Cape, South Africa.


A convenience sample of 150 pregnant women was recruited to participate in the study. Data were collected using several self-report measures concerning the history of childhood trauma, exposure to community violence, depression and alcohol use. Multivariable logistic models were developed, the first model was based on whether any IPV occurred, the remaining models investigated for physical-, sexual- and emotional abuse.


Lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates for any IPV were 44%. The 12-month IPV rates were 32% for emotional and controlling behaviours, 29% physical and 20% sexual abuse. The adjusted model predicting physical IPV found women who were at risk for depression were more likely to experience physical IPV [odds ratios (ORs) 4.42, 95% confidence intervals (CIs) 1.88–10.41], and the model predicting sexual IPV found that women who reported experiencing community violence were more likely to report 12-month sexual IPV (OR 3.85, CI 1.14–13.08).


This is the first study, which illustrates high prevalence rates of IPV among pregnant woman at Mitchells Plain MOU. A significant association was found between 12-month IPV and unintended pregnancy. Further prospective studies in different centres are needed to address generalisability and the effect of IPV on maternal and child outcomes.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Ms. Megan Malan, Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry & Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Sawkins Road, Rondebosch, 7700 University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. (Email:
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