Lead Author: BAAK, Carlijn van
Co-Author(s): HAYES, Brittany
Published by: Journal of Family Violence
Year published: 2023

Purpose Sierra Leone, a post-confict sub-Saharan African country, has very high rates of intimate partner violence (IPV). Female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage are also common. Both practices can lead to negative health outcomes, and may increase vulnerability to IPV. The current study aims to contextualize IPV risk factors in Sierra Leone, a low-income country in which empirical IPV research remains limited, by considering the intersection between age at FGM and age at marriage.

Method Analyzing data from the 2019 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Surveys (N=3,324), we use logistic regression models to examine the association of age at FGM and age at marriage, controlling for IPV risk factors, with the odds of women experiencing physical IPV. We consider the interaction between age at FGM and age at marriage, and incorporate age-specifc models in light of the civil war.

Results FGM and age at marriage were not signifcantly associated with IPV, but those who were circumcised between 10 – 14 years of age – when the practice traditionally occurs – were associated with higher odds of IPV. Among women aged 29 and younger, women circumcised under the age of 10 and also married between the ages of 10–14 were most at risk.

Conclusions The results ofer insight into the sociocultural practices and its association with IPV among Sierra Leonean women, especially in light of civil war timing. Our fndings highlight the importance of considering the age at which these practices occur, as this may further exacerbate women’s vulnerability to IPV victimization.