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BMC Womens Health. 2014 Feb 12;14:26. doi: 10.1186/1472-6874-14-26.

Violence against women and unintended pregnancies in Nicaragua: a population-based multilevel study.

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, SE 901 85 Umeå, Sweden.



Despite an increased use of contraceptive methods by women, unintended pregnancies represent one of the most evident violations of women's sexual and reproductive rights around the world. This study aims to measure the association between individual and community exposure to different forms of violence against women (physical/sexual violence by the partner, sexual abuse by any person, or controlling behavior by the partner) and unintended pregnancies.


Data from the 2006/2007 Nicaraguan Demographic and Health Survey were used. For the current study, 5347 women who reported a live birth in the five years prior to the survey and who were married or cohabitating at the time of the data collection were selected. Women's exposure to controlling behaviors by their partners was measured using six questions from the WHO Multi-Country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women.Area-level variables were constructed by aggregating the individual level exposures to violence into an exposure measurement of the municipality as a whole (n = 142); which is the basic political division in Nicaragua. Multilevel logistic regression was used to analyze the data.


In total, 37.1% of the pregnancies were reported as unintended. After adjusting for all variables included in the model, individual exposure to controlling behavior by a partner (AOR = 1.28, 95% CrI = 1.13-1.44), ever exposure to sexual abuse (AOR = 1.31, 95% CrI = 1.03-1.62), and ever exposure to physical/sexual intimate partner violence (AOR = 1.44, 95% CrI = 1.24-1.66) were significantly associated with unintended pregnancies. Women who lived in municipalities in the highest tertile of controlling behavior by a partner had 1.25 times higher odds of reporting an unintended pregnancy than women living in municipalities in the lowest tertile (AOR = 1.25, 95% CrI = 1.03-1.48).


Nicaraguan women often experience unintended pregnancies, and the occurrence of unintended pregnancies is significantly associated with exposure to different forms of violence against women at both the individual and the municipality level. National policies aiming to facilitate women's ability to exercise their reproductive rights must include actions aimed at reducing women's exposures to violence against women.

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