Prevalence of intimate partner violence and abuse and associated factors among women enrolled into a cluster randomised trial in northwestern Tanzania

Saidi Kapiga, Sheila Harvey, Abdul Khalie Muhammad, Heidi Stöckl, Gerry Mshana, Ramadhan Hashim, Christian Hansen, Shelley Lees and Charlotte Watts BMC Public Health, 2017; Full research article online

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is recognised as an important public health and social problem, with far reaching consequences for women's physical and emotional health and social well-being. Furthermore, controlling behaviour by a partner has a similar impact on women's well-being, yet little is known about the prevalence of this type of behaviour and other related abuses in Tanzania and other sub-Saharan African countries.

This paper describes the Maisha study and presents the baseline lifetime and past 12-month prevalence of physical and sexual IPV and other abuses including economic abuse, emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. It also assesses overlapping forms of violence and abuses and the associations between experience of violence and abuses and socio-demographic characteristics and women's self reported mental-health status.


  • 61% of women reported ever experiencing physical and/or sexual IPV and 27% experienced it in the last 12 months.
  • Partner controlling behaviour was the most prevalent type of abuse with 82% experiencing it in their lifetime and 63% during the past 12 months.
  • Other types of abuses were also common, with 34% of women reporting economic abuse and 39% reporting emotional abuse during the past 12 months.
  • The prevalence of IPV and abuses varied by socio-demographic characteristics, showing much higher prevalence rates among younger women, women with young partners and less educated women.
  • Experience of abuse during the past 12 months was associated with increased reporting of symptoms of poor mental health.

The high prevalence of IPV and abuses and its strong links with symptoms of poor mental health underline the urgent need for developing and testing appropriate interventions in settings like Tanzania to tackle both violence and abusive behaviours among intimate partners.

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