Medico-Legal Evaluation of Violence Against Pregnant Women Attending Woman’s Health Hospital in Assiut University, Upper Egypt

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Forensic Medicine and Clinical Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt

2 Department of Forensic Medicine and Clinical Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University, Egypt

3 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Woman’s Health Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt


Violence against women is the most persistent yet under-recognized human rights violation and is an important worldwide health problem. Pregnant women may be especially susceptible to violence owing to increasing their physical, social, emotional and economic demands during pregnancy with potential negative health impacts on both the mother and her unborn baby. Alongside diagnosis and treatment processes, there are considerable challenges in medico-legal evaluation of domestic violence against pregnant women. The present study was carried out to estimate the frequency and pattern of domestic violence among pregnant women in Assiut governorate and to identify the associated socio-demographic and behavioral risk factors. Meanwhile, investigation of the relationship between pregnant women’s health status and violence exposure was another important goal.  A cross-sectional study design using a random sampling method was employed in this study. The sample comprised 296 pregnant women aged 18-45 years old who were attending Woman’s Health Hospital in Assiut University for antenatal care. Data  was  collected  via  a  structured  interview  questionnaire  including  the socio-demographic  and personality characteristics  of  the women  and their husbands in addition to family profile. The questionnaire also assessed different forms of domestic violence and its consequences on general and obstetric well-being of the pregnant women. Results  revealed  that  the  overall  prevalence  of  domestic  violence among  the  studied  group  was  exceptionally high (91.2%);  the  commonest  form was psychological abuse (81.8 %),  followed  by  sexual abuse (35.5%)  and lastly  physical abuse   (28 %). Logistic regression analysis indicated that younger wives with low educational attainment, non-religious and violent husbands in addition to nuclear and poor families, were all linked to domestic violence against pregnant women. Regarding  the  health consequences  of  violence  exposure,  the urinary and gynecological adverse effects were most  common,  with  a  statistically  significant  difference  in  each  form  of  violence. In conclusion, the  overall  prevalence  of domestic  violence  within the pregnant women sample in Upper Egypt was  remarkably  high  and  predominantly  of  psychological form. Several risk factors have been identified. Pregnant women abuse had adverse health effects that urge raising awareness of obstetricians and health workers in prenatal and family planning services about their legal and ethical responsibilities regarding diagnosis of women abuse through sound examination protocols.