Correlates of intimate partner violence among pregnant and parenting adolescents: a cross-sectional household survey in Blantyre District, Malawi

Elita Chamdimba, Alister Munthali, Anthony Ajayi, Juliet Nwafor

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Despite efforts from the government and developmental partners to eliminate gender-based violence, intimate partner violence (IPV) remains a pervasive global health and human rights problem, affecting up to 753 million women and girls globally. Few studies on IPV have focused on pregnant and parenting adolescent (PPA) girls in Africa, although the region has the highest rates of adolescent childbearing. This limited attention results in the neglect of pregnant and parenting adolescents in policies and interventions addressing IPV in the region. Our study examined IPV prevalence and its individual, household, and community-level correlates among pregnant and parenting adolescent girls (10–19 years) in Blantyre District, Malawi.

We collected data from a cross-section of pregnant and parenting adolescent girls (n = 669) between March and May 2021. The girls responded to questions on socio-demographic and household characteristics, lifetime experience of IPV (i.e., sexual, physical, and emotional violence), and community-level safety nets. We used multilevel mixed-effect logistic regression models to examine the individual, household, and community-level factors associated with IPV.

The lifetime prevalence of IPV was 39.7% (n = 266), with more girls reporting emotional (28.8%) than physical (22.2%) and sexual (17.4%) violence. At the individual level, girls with secondary education (AOR: 1.72; 95% CI: 1.16–2.54), who engaged in transactional sex (AOR: 2.29; 95% CI: 1.35–3.89), and accepted wife-beating (AOR: 1.97; 95% CI: 1.27–3.08) were significantly more likely to experience IPV compared to those with no education/primary education, who never engaged in transactional sex and rejected wife beating. Girls aged 19 (AOR: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.27–0.87) were less likely to report IPV than those aged 13–16. At the household level, girls with fair and poor partner support had higher odds of experiencing IPV, but the effect size did not reach a significant level in the parsimonious model. A high perception of neighborhood safety was associated with a lower likelihood of experiencing IPV (AOR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.69–0.95).

Intimate partner violence is rife among pregnant and parenting adolescent girls in Malawi, underscoring the need for appropriate interventions to curb the scourge. Interventions addressing IPV need to target younger adolescents, those engaging in transactional sex, and those having weaker community-level safety nets. Interventions to change social norms that drive the acceptance of gender-based violence are also warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number60
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Reproductive Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2023


  • intimate partner violence
  • domestic violence
  • pregnant
  • parenting
  • adolescents
  • Malawi


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