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Keywords:

  • Domestic violence;
  • female circumcision;
  • female genital mutilation;
  • intimate partner violence

Please cite this paper as: Salihu H, August E, Salemi J, Weldeselasse H, Sarro Y, Alio A. The association between female genital mutilation and intimate partner violence. BJOG 2012;119:1597–1605.

Objective  To determine whether female genital mutilation (FGM) is a risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV) and its subtypes (physical, sexual and emotional).

Design  Population-based cross-sectional study.

Setting  The study used the 2006 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) conducted in Mali.

Population  A total of 7875 women aged 15–49 years who responded to the domestic violence and female circumcision modules in the 2006 administration of the DHS in Mali.

Methods  Multivariable logistic regression was used to compute adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to measure risk for IPV.

Main outcome measures  The outcomes of interest were IPV and its subtypes.

Results  Women with FGM were at heightened odds of IPV (aOR 2.71, 95% CI 2.17–3.38) and IPV subtypes: physical (aOR 2.85, 95% CI 2.22–3.66), sexual (aOR 3.24, 95% CI 1.80–5.82), and emotional (aOR 2.28, 95% CI 1.68–3.11). The odds of IPV increased with ascending FGM severity (P for trend <0.0001). The most elevated odds were observed among women with severe FGM, who were nearly nine times as likely to experience more than one IPV subtype (aOR 8.81, 95% CI 5.87–13.24).

Conclusions  Study findings underscore the need for multi-tiered strategies, incorporating policy and education, to reduce FGM and IPV, potentially improving the holistic health and wellbeing of Malian women.