Violence against women is a worldwide problem and serious human rights abuse that occurs among all social, cultural, economic and religious groups. There is a paucity of research on intimate partner violence against women in Iraq, particularly in the Kurdistan region. This study assessed the prevalence of emotional, physical and sexual intimate partner violence against women and the impact of physical violence in Erbil, the main city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
A cross-sectional study was carried out on a convenience sample of 800 Kurdish ever married women. Women (aged 16 to 65 years) attending two public hospitals in Erbil city for reproductive health problems were included in the study. The study was conducted between 1st of October 2009 and 30th of March 2011. Each woman was seen only once. Intimate partner violence was assessed by administering a modified version of the World Health Organization’s domestic violence questionnaire through direct interview by a female doctor. Prevalence of intimate partner violence was assessed by timing (lifetime or past year), frequency (once, 2–5 times, > 5 times), and type (emotional, physical, and sexual violence). Descriptive statistical analysis was conducted with calculation of frequencies and percentages of women who reported different types, severities and impact of intimate partner violence.
The prevalence of the overall lifetime and the overall past year intimate partner violence against women was 58.6% and 45.3%, respectively. The proportions of women experienced at least one form of lifetime intimate partner violence were: 52.6% for emotional abuse; 38.9% for physical violence; and 21.1% for sexual violence, while 43.3%, 15.1%, and 12.1% of women experienced at least one form of past year emotional, physical and sexual violence, respectively. Among those with lifetime physical violence, 11.6% were subjected to more serious injuries like stab wound, broken teeth or broken bones.
There is a high prevalence of intimate partner violence, in particular emotional abuse behavior, against the women attending hospitals in Erbil. Physical violence is also a significant problem particularly in terms of its consequences.