Women who remained adherent to COVID-19 preventive measures in Uganda in mid-2020 were more likely to experience intimate partner violence (IPV) than women who were poorly adherent to the measures, according to a new study published this week in the open-access journal PLOS Global Public Health by Ronald Anguzu of the Medical College of Wisconsin, US, and colleagues.
51% of young girls and women in Uganda have experienced one form of physical or sexual IPV. COVID-19 lockdowns have been associated with psychological distress and decreased quality of life, especially in households with high poverty levels. Concerns have been raised about the population-level effects of COVID-19 prevention strategies and policies on violence against women and girls.
In the new study, Anguzu and colleagues conducted a three-month prospective cohort study, from July to October 2020, among 148 women living in informal settlements of Kampala, Uganda. Participants had a mean age of 32.9 years, 50.7% were married or cohabitating, and 78.2% reported food insecurity during the lockdown period. They were surveyed at baseline, 3 weeks and 6 weeks on their adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures, sociodemographic factors, and IPV.
Overall, 10.1% of participants were poorly adherent to COVID-19 preventive measures—including social distancing, wearing face masks and use of hand sanitizer. 58.1% of women in the study experienced at least one form of IPV between baseline and endline surveys. After controlling for potential confounders, remaining adherent to all four COVID-19 preventive measures was independently associated with 3.87 times higher odds of experiencing IPV (OR 3.87, 95%CI 1.09, 13.79).
The current study was not able to follow up participants to further investigate the socio-cultural context surrounding their experiences of IPV during the first COVID-19 wave in Uganda. However, the authors conclude that integration of violence prevention and response strategies into the national COVID-19 prevention strategy for Uganda is critical.
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Global Public Health: https://journals.plos.org/globalpublichealth/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgph.0000177
Citation: Anguzu R, Kabagenyi A, Cassidy LD, Kasasa S, Shour AR, Musoke BN, et al. (2022) Adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures and its association with intimate partner violence among women in informal settings of Kampala, Uganda. PLOS Glob Public Health 2(4): e0000177. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000177
Author Countries: U.S.A., Uganda
Funding: This study was funded by the Government of Uganda through the special COVID-19 funding to the Research and Innovations Fund (RIF) of Makerere University: https://rif.mak.ac.ug/list-of-projects-awarded-under-the-special-mak-rif-covid-19-call/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
PLOS Global Public Health
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Adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures and its association with intimate partner violence among women in informal settings of Kampala, Uganda
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The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.