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Polygyny and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Among Ethiopian Women


Polygyny is marriage between a man and multiple women and is mostly practiced in sub-Saharan African countries. Some of the common attributes of this family structure include perennial conflicts and marital discord, which can expose women to intimate partner violence (IPV). Nonetheless, there is limited research on the intersection between such family structures and IPV in the Ethiopian context. Thus, we examined data from ever-married women (n = 4469) between 15 and 49 years of age collected in the 2016 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS-2016). Overall, the proportion of polygynous marriages among ever-married Ethiopian women was 10.4% (confidence interval (CI): 8.7–12.4). The prevalences of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse among ever-married women were 24%, 23.1%, and 10.1%, respectively. Women who reported being in polygynous marriages were 1.82 times more likely to report emotional abuse by their husbands (odds ratio (OR) = 1.82; CI: 1.256–2.628). However, the type of marriage had no significant association with physical and sexual violence among ever-married women. The results suggest that polygynous family structures may expose women to IPV. Thus, health and social service providers should be aware of the vulnerability to psychological distress of women in such unions.

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We would like to thank the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) Program and ICF International for allowing us to use the database.

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NE initiated, planned, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript.

MA helped with data screening, coding, and analyses.

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Correspondence to Nasser B. Ebrahim.

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Ebrahim, N.B., Atteraya, M.S. Polygyny and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Among Ethiopian Women. Glob Soc Welf 8, 213–220 (2021).

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  • Women
  • Polygyny
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Ethiopia
  • Africa