'I should not feed such a weak woman'. Intimate partner violence among women living with podoconiosis: A qualitative study in northern Ethiopia

Tsegay, Girmay, Deribe, Kebede, Deyessa, Negussie, Addissie, Adamu, Davey, Gail, Cooper, Maxwell and Trueba, Mei (2018) 'I should not feed such a weak woman'. Intimate partner violence among women living with podoconiosis: A qualitative study in northern Ethiopia. PLoS ONE, 13 (12). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1932-6203

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Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Research indicates that adults suffering from long term, disabling conditions are more likely to be victims of IPV due to the intersection of disease-associated stigma and discrimination. IPV in turn is known to worsen the overall health and wellbeing of those affected by it. Little research however explores the relationship between neglected tropical diseases such as podoconiosis and IPV. This study explores the relationship between IPV and podoconiosis in northern Ethiopia with the aim of identifying new avenues for limiting disability and promoting the wellbeing of people affected by this neglected tropical disease.

The study was conducted in East and West Gojjam zones, located in the Amhara Regional State of Ethiopia. Research participants were first screened using the domestic violence screening tool Hurt-Insult-Threaten-Scream (HITS). Data were collected by native speakers of the local language (Amharic) in the form of semi-structured interviews during January and February 2016. Thematic and content data analysis was carried out, using the Open Code 3.4 qualitative data analysis software for coding.

A total of 15 women living with podoconiosis and experiencing IPV were interviewed (aged 31 to 75). Women experienced different forms of IPV, including beatings (with or without an object), insults, name calling, undermining, denial of equal rights over common assets, movement monitoring, cheating, abandonment, forced divorce, obstruction of health care access, inhibition of decision-making and sexual coercion. Podoconiosis increases the frequency and severity of IPV and in occasions shapes a change from physical to psychological and financial violence. In turn, frequent episodes of IPV worsen disease outcomes and contribute to disease persistence in the region, in that these impede women’s ability to manage the disease and help perpetuate the conditions of poverty that influence disease onset.

Women living with podoconiosis are victims of various, overlapping forms of IPV that negatively impact their health and wellbeing. Poverty, scarce IPV prevention services in the area together with a social acceptance of IPV and these women’s decreased ability to work due to the debilitating effects of podoconiosis and childcare responsibilities frequently prompt these women to tolerate IPV and remain in abusive relationships. Tackling disease-associated taboo and stigma, developing accessible IPV interventions, working towards greater gender equality at the household and societal levels and developing sustainable strategies for improving the socio-economic assets of women affected by podoconiosis are all necessary to both prevent IPV and to improve disease outcome.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Intimate partner violence, podoconiosis, gender relations, women, Ethiopia
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Global Health and Infection
Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Primary Care and Public Health
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Global Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine
Depositing User: Deborah Miller
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2018 14:21
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 13:35
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/80023

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