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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910

Abstract

CASTRO, Roberto  and  RUIZ, Agustín. Prevalence and severity of domestic violence among pregnant women, Mexico. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2004, vol.38, n.1, pp. 62-70. ISSN 0034-8910.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-89102004000100009.

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether pregnancy is a risk factor for domestic violence and to compare prevalence and severity of violence reported by women before and during pregnancy. METHODS: There were interviewed 468 women in the third trimester of pregnancy who were seen during prenatal visits at public clinics in the state of Morelos, Mexico. Emotional, physical and sexual violence were investigated. A severity index was built up. Logistic regression analysis was applied in order to identify the main variables associated to domestic violence during pregnancy. RESULTS: The prevalence of domestic violence did not change significantly before and during pregnancy (32%). The prevalence of each type of violence remained the same. About 27% of women who reported violence during pregnancy did not have experience it before, and a comparable proportion had experienced violence before but not during pregnancy. The severity of emotional violence significantly increased during pregnancy (compared to the previous year) whereas the severity of physical violence decreased. Variables most clearly related to violence during pregnancy were: couple's past history of child abuse; women witnessing domestic violence during childhood; and violence in the year before pregnancy. Several risk scenarios were identified, which could be helpful for health care providers. CONCLUSIONS: The results showed that emotional violence is more prevalent than physical and sexual violence, allowing for a better understanding of this phenomenon.

Keywords : Domestic violence; Pregnancy; Women's health; Prevalence; Reproductive health; Severity; Gender violence.

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