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Domestic violence: a cross-sectional study among pregnant women in different regions of Sri Lanka
  1. Munas M Muzrif1,
  2. Dinusha Perera1,
  3. Kumudu Wijewardena1,
  4. Berit Schei2,3,
  5. Katarina Swahnberg4
  1. 1 Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  2. 2 Department of Public Health and Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
  3. 3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
  4. 4 Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life Science, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Munas M Muzrif; muzrif{at}


Objectives The aims of this study were to assess the regional differences in domestic violence among pregnant women in the capital district and in the tea plantation sector of Sri Lanka, to explore potential contributory factors and to assess whether healthcare workers addressed domestic violence and disclosure among survivors.

Design A cross-sectional study was carried out using interviewer-administered Abuse Assessment Screen.

Setting Fifty-seven antenatal clinic centres in the capital district and 30 in the tea plantation sector.

Participants Pregnant women between 6 and 40 weeks of gestational age. In the capital district, 1375 women were recruited from antenatal clinic centres in the urban (n=25) and in the rural areas (n=32), and 800 women from 30 centres in the tea plantation sector. The response rate in the capital district was 95.6% and 96.7% in the tea plantation sector.

Results Among the total sample of pregnant women (n=2088), the prevalence of ‘ever abused’ was 38.6%, and the prevalence of ‘currently abused’ was 15.9%. ‘Ever abused’ (31.5% vs 50.8%) and ‘currently abused’ (10% vs 25.8%) were significantly higher (P<0.001) among the women living in the tea plantation sector. ‘Ever abused’ was associated with living in the tea plantation sector, being employed, living far from gender-based violence care centre and of Muslim ethnicity, after adjusting for age, education and family income. Only 38.8% of all participants had been asked by healthcare workers about abuse. Living in the tea plantation sector and lower level of education were associated with not being asked. Among those who reported ‘ever abused’, only 8.7% had disclosed the experience to a healthcare worker.

Conclusion Domestic violence was prevalent and highest among women in the tea plantation sector compared with the capital district. The capacity of healthcare workers in addressing domestic violence should be increased.

  • gender based violence
  • domestic violence
  • tea plantation sector in Sri Lanka
  • violence in pregnency
  • Sri Lanka

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  • Contributors MMM, DP, KW and KS planned the study. MMM, DP and KW collected the data. MMM, DP and KS analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. BS and KW assisted with the analysis. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and assisted in revising the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by the research council of Norway under its Global Health and Vaccination Research (GLOBVAC) program, project number 220893: ’Evaluating interventions in antenatal care to identify and assist victims of gender based violence in Nepal and Sri Lanka'.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval All methods, instruments and procedures were reviewed by the Ethical Review Committee of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, SriLanka in March 2014 (ref. no.: 07/14 and 08/14).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Unpublished additional data are available. Authors will analyse this for future publications. Only the authors can access the data. Others can access the data by contacting the authors.

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