Does healthcare decision-making capacity affect women’s justification of sexual violence? The situation of sub-Saharan Africa

Linus BAATIEMA, Edward Kwabena AMEYAW, Bright Opoku AHINKORAH, Abdul-aziz SEIDU, Elijah YENDAW, Aliu MOOMIN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Sexual violence against women is commonly justified in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) despite international commitments to halt it. This study investigated the association between healthcare decision-making capacity and the justification of sexual violence among women in SSA. We used current datasets of 30 sub-Saharan African countries published between January 2010 and December 2018. The sample included 259,885 women who were in sexual unions. We extracted and analysed the data with Stata version 14. Chi-square test and multilevel logistic regression models were used to analyse the data. Results for the regression analysis were presented as adjusted odds ratios (AOR) with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The results showed that women who decided on their healthcare alone had lower odds [AOR=0.93; CI=0.91–0.96] of justifying sexual violence compared to those who were not deciding alone. We also found that women aged 45-49 [AOR=0.85; CI=0.82-0.89], those with higher education [AOR=0.26; CI=0.24-0.29], cohabiting women (AOR=0.82, CI=0.80-0.85], richest women [AOR= 0.58; CI=0.56-0.60], women living in urban areas [AOR=0.74; CI=0.73-0.76], and Christians [AOR=0.52; CI=0.51-0.54] had lower odds of justifying wife beating if a woman refuses to have sex with her partner. On the contrary, women who engaged in agriculture had higher odds of justifying sexual violence than those who were not working [AOR=1.07; CI=1.04-1.09]. Groups that should be prioritised with anti-sexual violence initiatives are the poor, rural residents, and young women. It is also vital to institute policies and interventions focused on educating men about women’s right to make decisions, and why partner violence is unjust and intolerable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1133
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number6
Early online date23 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors are grateful to Measure DHS for making data accessible for this study.


  • Sexual Violence
  • Women
  • Healthcare Decision-making
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


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