Is cohabitation as a form of union formation a licence to intimate partner physical violence in Uganda?

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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The study examined the argument that cohabitation as a form of union increases physical violence victimization among women. The study’s aim was to assess the association between physical violence and other socio-demographic factors that influence physical violence among women. Self-reported data were extracted from the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), with a sample of 2479 couples, from the couple file. Chi-squared tests and multivariate Firth-logit regression models were used to examine the relationship between intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization and marital status controlling for other social-demographic factors. There was no significant evidence that women in cohabiting union have a higher risk of exposure to physical violence in the Ugandan context. The risk of experiencing physical violence perpetration varied by birth cohort, with the most recent cohorts exhibiting a slightly higher risk of experiencing partner violence than previous cohorts. Significant factors found to be associated with an increased risk of experiencing IPV included being in the poorer, middle and richer compared with the poorest wealth tertile of income, residing in Eastern or Northern regions compared with the Central region, being affiliated to the Catholic faith compared with Anglican and having five or more children compared with 4 or fewer children. In conclusion, there is no evidence that physical violence is more pronounced among women in cohabiting unions compared with married women in Uganda.