Detrimental effects of intimate partner violence on the nutritional status of children: insights from PDHS 2012-2013

Natasha Shaukat, Meesha Iqbal, Muhammad Arslan Khan


Background: Endemicity of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is established globally. Children are directly dependent on mothers for care and nourishment. Literature has shown inconsistent association between IPV and nutritional status of children, and no nationwide study has been conducted in Pakistan to test this association. Thus, we aimed to do a secondary data analysis on Pakistan Demographic Health Survey (PDHS 2012-13) to explore the association of IPV and the nutritional status of children.

Methods: This secondary data analysis was conducted on nationally representative data of PDHS 2012-13. All four provinces, including Islamabad Capital Territory and Gilgit Baltistan districts were taken, and two stage stratified random sampling was performed. The conflict tactics scale (CTS) was used to quantify Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), and its emotional and physical dimensions.

Results: This study included mother-child dyads (n=1851) who completed the domestic violence module in PDHS. The lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence was almost 40% among married women of reproductive age group. About 20% of women reported emotional violence and 2.5% women reported physical violence only. However, 16% of the women reported having suffered from both emotional and physical violence. Women who suffered from emotional violence had children with significantly higher odds of being underweight (OR, 95% CI: 1.57, 1.04-2.36) and stunted (OR, 95% CI: 1.54, 1.05-2.24) respectively. IPV was not found to be significantly associated with occurrence of wasting in children.

Conclusions: Policy implications towards this issue call for establishing programmes and laws to protect women and children from the detrimental effects of violence. Provision of initiatives which focus on women autonomy and empowerment via increased access to education and economic opportunities.


Intimate partner violence, Nutritional status, Domestic violence, Pakistan, Malnutrition

Full Text:



Violence Against Women: Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Against Women. World Health Organization. Available at: mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/. Accessed on 28 September 2017.

Flitcraft A. Diagnostic and treatment guidelines on domestic violence. Chicago, American medical Association. 1992;1(1):39-47.

World Health Organisation. Multicountry Study on Women’s Health And Life Experiences Questionnaire (Version 9). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organisation; 2000.

Chai J, Fink G, Kaaya S, Danaei G, Fawzi W, Ezzati M, et al. Association between intimate partner violence and poor child growth: results from 42 demographic and health surveys. Bull World Health Organ. 2016;94(5):331.

Sobkoviak RM, Yount KM, Halim N. Domestic violence and child nutrition in Liberia. Social Sci Med. 2012;74(2):103-11.

Frances R. Domestic Violence and Chronic Malnutrition among Women and Children in India. Year Book of Psychiatry Applied Mental Health. 2009;2009:114-5.

Ali B. Domestic violence against women in Pakistan: a meta analytic review of published researches. Escalating Res. 2014;3(4):1-4.

Ali TS, Asad N, Mogren I, Krantz G. Intimate partner violence in urban Pakistan: prevalence, frequency, and risk factors. Int J Womens Health. 2011;3:105.

Ali NS, Ali FN, Khuwaja AK, Nanji K. Factors associated with intimate partner violence against women in a mega city of South-Asia: multi-centre cross-sectional study. Hong Kong Med J. 2014;20:297-303.

Ali TS, Bustamante Gavino I. Prevalence of and reasons for domestic violence among women from low socioeconomic communities of Karachi. East Mediterr Health J. 2007;13(6).

National Institute of Population Studies. Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13. Islamabad (Pak): NIPS, ICF International; 2013: 366.

Ackerson LK, Subramanian SV. Domestic violence and chronic malnutrition among women and children in India. Am J Epidemiol. 2008;167(10):1188-96.

WHO, Pan American Health Organization. Understanding and addressing violence against women, Health consequences. 2012: 8.