Risks of Partner Abuse in Ever-Married People in Uganda


  • Childhood exposure to violence predicts future risk of violence.
  • Aside from those who witness violence, one in every three children is a direct survivor of violence.
  • Alcohol consumption is a strong predictor for intimate partner violence (IPV) among women and men in Uganda.
  • A combination of factors that promote individual autonomy such as, household wealth, and decision-making, offer protection to IPV.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive problem in Uganda that has been associated with numerous negative outcomes for women, such as physical and psychological health problems, financial insecurity, and social isolation. In fact, the Ugandan Ministry of Health estimates that about one-third of married women in Uganda experience some form of IPV. This statistic is alarming given that nearly two-thirds of all marriages in the country are considered polygamous [1-4].
To better understand the nature and causes of IPV among ever-married men and women in Uganda, it is important to consider the contextual factors associated with this issue. Empowerment of women, partner behaviors, and other environmental influences may all play a role in influencing individuals’ likelihood to perpetrate or experience IPV. Research on this topic is still scarce, but there are some studies that provide valuable insight into how these variables interact with one another to affect IPV outcomes [5, 6].


Secondary data analyses from the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys was done to identify the key determinants of IPV among ever-married men and women in Uganda [1, 2]. In addition, school-based survey was conducted [7]. Finally, primary data was collected from young fisher-folk from Lake Victoria landing sites in Mukono and Namayingo districts [4]. Regressions were used to determine the risk factors for IPV [8, 9].


One study looked at Ugandan ever-married women and discovered a link between women’s empowerment and intimate partner physical violence (IPPV). Women who had witnessed parental violence were more likely to report IPPV than those who had not. Wealthier women were also less likely to witness or experience IPPPV. When examining IPPV in married women, the results highlighted the significance of power imbalances in marriages [3].
Peer and adult violence against children are a global public health issue, including in Uganda. One in every three Ugandan elementary school pupils reported experiencing physical or emotional violence at the hands of their peers, implying that even young people can be affected by IPV or witness it growing up, normalizing violent behaviour during childhood and increasing the likelihood of becoming survivors of it later in life [7].
Several studies have looked at how empowering women can help prevent domestic violence and how skilled birth attendants (SBA) can help rural Ugandan women. Women’s empowerment alone did not increase rural Ugandan women’s use of SBA services. However, household wealth, partners’ education, antenatal care attendance, and parity all predicted SBA uptake in this group. This suggests that, rather than focusing solely on female empowerment, improving services for pregnant mothers in Uganda will necessitate addressing multiple risk factors. [9].
Alcohol use has been linked to having multiple sexual partners, working for cash/kind payments, and early marriage in a set of Ugandan youth. This makes alcohol a potential HIV sexual risk factor. However, further research on this same population showed that intimate partner violence was not significantly linked with HIV transmission rates among adolescent or young adult age groups, despite high levels of emotional (36%), physical (20%), and minor (8%) intimate partner physical abuse reported by ever-married men surveyed about their interpersonal relationships during this time frame [4]. Furthermore, there was no evidence that living together as a couple increases the risk of physical violence against women [5].


Intimate partner violence affects thousands upon thousands of individuals across different facets of life within Ugandan societies, ranging from pre-adolescents to adults alike, making it an urgent matter requiring both immediate attention as well as long term initiatives if we wish to reduce its prevalence throughout future generations.
In addition, men are also survivors of intimate partner violence. This calls for combined efforts to reduce violence against men perpetrated by females by addressing controlling behaviors, frequency of getting drunk with alcohol, and lack of awareness of the issue.


It would seem then necessary for governments, public health officials, social workers, civil society organisations and members from local communities’ band together so effective interventions strategies can be designed targeting different aspects impacting its occurrence thus preventing new episodes. To accomplish this, enabling policies and capacity building may be required, and existing societal structures may be utilized.


  • Interventions aimed at raising public awareness are required to improve reporting and case management of violence.
  • Improving access to health and social services may reduce some IPVs
  • Comprehensive approach involving prevention initiatives, survivor-centered services, criminal justice responses, economic security policies and cultural shifts can help reduce IPV incidents over time.
  • It is also critical for communities of all backgrounds to band together in support of those affected by intimate partner violence.
  • We can create lasting change through a combination of long-term strategies and immediate interventions tailored to individual needs, so that everyone can live free from fear of violence in their relationships.


Stephen Ojiambo Wandera, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda


  1. Gubi D, Nansubuga E, Wandera SO: Correlates of intimate partner violence among married women in Uganda: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Public Health 2020, 20(1):1008.
  2. Gubi D, Wandera SO: Prevalence and correlates of intimate partner violence among ever-married men in Uganda: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Public Health 2022, 22(1):535.
  3. Kwagala B, Wandera SO, Ndugga P, Kabagenyi A: Empowerment, partner’s behaviours and intimate partner physical violence among married women in Uganda. BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1112.
  4. Wandera SO, Tumwesigye NM, Walakira EJ, Kisaakye P, Wagman J: Alcohol use, intimate partner violence, and HIV sexual risk behavior among young people in fishing communities of Lake Victoria, Uganda. BMC Public Health 2021, 21(1):544.
  5. Lwanga C, Kalule-Sabiti I, Fuseini K, Wandera SO, Mangombe K, Maniragaba F: Is cohabitation as a form of union formation a licence to intimate partner physical violence in Uganda? Journal of Biosocial Science 2022, 54(6):925-938.
  6. Wandera SO, Betty K, Clifford O: Intimate partner violence and current modern contraceptive use among married women in Uganda: a cross-sectional study. PAMJ 2018, 30(85).
  7. Wandera SO, Clarke K, Knight L, Allen E, Walakira E, Namy S, Naker D, Devries K: Violence against children perpetrated by peers: A cross-sectional school-based survey in Uganda. Child Abuse Negl 2017, 68:65-73.
  8. Wandera SO, Ntozi JPM, Kwagala B: Spousal sexual violence, sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections among ever-married women in Uganda. African Population Studies 2010, 24(1&2):70-87.
  9. Kwagala B, Nankinga O, Wandera SO, Ndugga P, Kabagenyi A: Empowerment, intimate partner violence and skilled birth attendance among women in rural Uganda. Reproductive Health 2016, 13(1):53.

main source of this article

  • Nyondo, A. L., Muula, A. S., & Chimwaza, A. F. (2013). Assessment of strategies for male involvement in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services in Blantyre, Malawi. Global Health Action, 6(1), 22780. https://doi.org/10.3402/gha.v6i0.22780
  • Nyondo, A. L., Chimwaza, A. F., & Muula, A. S. (2014). Exploring the relevance of male involvement in the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV services in Blantyre, Malawi. BMC international health and human rights, 14, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12914-014-0030-y
  • Nyondo, A. L., Choko, A. T., Chimwaza, A. F., & Muula, A. S. (2015). Invitation cards during pregnancy enhance male partner involvement in prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Blantyre, Malawi: a randomized controlled open label trial. PLoS One, 10(3), e0119273. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119273

other references

  • M’baya Kansinjiro, B., & Nyondo-Mipando, A. L. (2021). A qualitative exploration of roles and expectations of male partners from PMTCT services in rural Malawi. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1-14.. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10640-z

The CE-APCC is currently undertaking a rigorous formative phase leading up to the establishment of the APCC in 2024. The formative phase comprises four stages:

  1. A review of population-based cohort science in Africa, including a survey of existing cohorts, an assessment of the synergies between the APCC and other ongoing efforts to support African research, and identification of stakeholders.
  2. A series of virtual thematic workshops during the second and third quarters of 2023 to discuss and debate issues identified during the previous stage will be conducted with scientists active in African cohorts and other key stakeholders.
  3. During the third stage of the formative phase, work will proceed in seven workstreams (Stakeholder and Community Engagement, Existing Cohort Engagement, Research Vision & Objectives, Data & Methodology, ‘Omics, Governance & Ethics, and Capacity Strengthening) to detail the optimal components of the APCC.
  4. The final stage will culminate in an in-person meeting towards the end of the first quarter of 2024 to reach a consensus and finalise the APCC blueprint document for submission to the funders and wider scientific, policy and development communities.

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