Uganda: Demographic Survey Reveals Startling Figures on Domestic Abuse, Pregnancy

The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey for 2006, which was released last week, reveals shocking attitudes toward domestic violence, high rates of unprotected sex, and limited use of natal medical care. The survey — the fourth of its kind conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics — relied on data collected between May and October 2006 of some 10,000 households.

In regards to domestic violence, the survey showed that 70 percent of women and about 60 percent of men believe that there are some circumstances in which a husband is justified in beating his wife. Juliet Hatenga, a human rights advocate, told Ugandan newspaper The New Vision that even the police look for justifications when responding to domestic abuse calls. Hatenga told The New Vision that the police will ask, “‘Did you cook well? What did you do?’ Then [the victim] will be told to sort it out with [her husband] because ‘that is a domestic issue.'” Only a slight majority of women and men (about 60 percent) believe that a woman is justified in refusing to have sex with her husband or partner if she knows he has a sexually transmitted disease or infection, if he has had sex with other women, if she is tired, or if she is not in the mood.

Within sexual relationships, the rate of contraceptive use is quite low. Only 23.7 percent of all married participants used any method, and only 17.9 percent used what would be considered a “modern” method: sterilization, birth control pills, inter-uterine devices (IUD), injectibles, implants, or male condoms. Ugandans with more education are more likely to use contraception; 13.2 percent of those with no education, 22.4 percent of those with a primary education, and 45.6 percent of those with a secondary education used any method to prevent conception. About 40 percent of Ugandans report having an “unmet” need for family planning, either to space or limit children.

Finally, a growing number of women are giving birth in health care facilities, though almost three-fourths of women do not receive postnatal care. In 1995, 36 percent of births were in medical facilities; that number has risen to 42 percent in 2006. Once again, education played a factor in women’s access and use of medical care at birth: 15 percent of women with a secondary education and 8 percent of women with a primary education received care from a physician during birth.


Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2006; The New Vision 8/19/07; Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 8/22/07

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