Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread form of gender-based violence. IPV is commonly defined as violence by one adult perpetrated on another, both parties being involved in an intimate relationship as a spouse or sexual partner . IPV includes acts of physical aggression, psychological abuse, forced sexual intercourse, or any other controlling behavior . Both men and women suffer from IPV but most of the cases are committed by men against women . Women are more likely to be repeat victims of IPV and they are more likely to experience more severe forms of IPV than men . The United Nations (UN) regards violence against women as a human rights concern and public policy issue  while the World Health Organization (WHO) regards it as an important public health problem .
IPV has a direct impact on women’s health [7, 8] and child health , and accounts for a significant number of deaths among women. Studies from a range of countries show that 40–70% of female murder victims were killed by their husband or boyfriend . Worldwide, evidence suggests that alcohol is closely associated with occurrence of IPV . The major focus of this paper is problem drinking. Although this has several definitions and may be subjective, for the purpose of this paper problem drinking is defined as having gotten drunk “sometimes” or “often” versus not having gotten drunk . In another aspect problem drinking is compared with not drinking alcohol.
Compared to other forms of IPV it is easier to measure physical intimate partner violence (PIPV) and compare this between countries since more work has been done with this construct compared to other forms of IPV. Another challenge with using alternative definitions of IPV, such as those that include sexual violence, is that these have more varying definitions and hence systematic comparative data across countries are less available . Therefore, the concern of this paper is PIPV, the physical form of IPV. Relatively little work has been done in Uganda and in the East African region in relation to the association between alcohol consumption and PIPV against women.
Alcohol consumption reduces self control and affects cognitive and physical functioning which reduces the ability of an individual to negotiate non-violent conflict resolution . Alcohol consumption has been found to increase the occurrence and severity of domestic violence . In addition, alcohol consumption by partners may cause financial problems, aggressive behaviour, childcare problems and other related problems which can lead to violence against women [14–16]. A study in the USA found that 30 to 40% of the men and 27 to 34% of the women who perpetrated violence against their partners were taking alcohol at the time of the event . A multi-country study in Chile, India, Egypt and the Philippines identified regular alcohol consumption by the partner as a risk factor for any life time PIPV against women across the four countries . A study in the UK found that 32% of IPV related events in UK occurred when the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol . A study in India found that excessive drinking predicted partner violence (OR = 28.7; 95% CI 11.5–71.7) .
Detailed analysis in several studies has found that it is problem drinking that contributes most to PIPV rather than just drinking alcohol [2, 19]. A study among battered women in UK found that 52% of offending males were described as frequently drunk while 22% had episodes of heavy drinking . A study of injured women in the USA found that 65% of those injured by partners had partners with alcohol abuse problems . Problem drinking significantly predicted perpetration of PIPV among cohabitees in a US study even after controlling for gender roles and other risk factors . Thus suggesting that the higher the level of alcohol consumption the higher the likelihood of PIPV perpetrated by males towards females . Another study found that among women attending emergency services the higher the level of alcohol abuse by their partners, the greater the likelihood that injuries were due to IPV .
Apart from problem drinking, many other factors are recognized as contributing to PIPV. Some of these factors include poverty, lack of women’s empowerment , urban residence and poor involvement in decision making , young age, low education and unemployment  being single or divorced/separated . These factors need to be considered when studying the relationship between problem drinking and PIPV.
Levels of PIPV vary widely across countries but they tend to be higher in developed than developing countries. A multi-country study commissioned by WHO and conducted from 2000 to 2003 found that the lifetime prevalence of PIPV ranged from 13% in Japan to 61% in Peru. In the same study Tanzania, which neighbours Uganda, had a PIPV prevalence of 47% . In a survey of 24,000 women in Canada only 7% reported having been victims of PIPV in the previous 5 years . A national study in the USA showed that 23% of the black couples, 11.5% of the white couples, and 17% of the Hispanic couples reported an event of male-to-female partner violence in the previous 12 months . However, comparison of PIPV between countries has to be done cautiously because definitions of PIPV vary by country and studies . The best comparison is offered in multi-country studies .
Uganda has high per capita alcohol consumption and high prevalence of PIPV. In 2004 Uganda had the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world with an average of 19.4 l per capita . Despite the decline in 2011, Uganda still had the second highest per capita alcohol (11.93 l) consumption in Africa and was rated 28th in the world . A study in 2003 found that the prevalence of alcohol consumption was 55% among men and 40% among women . In the previous 12 months, 59% of male drinkers and 23% of female drinkers had taken at least 5 drinks on a single day . Regarding PIPV, a study in two Ugandan districts found that 41% of women had been beaten or harmed by a partner .
According to the 2006 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), 48% of ever-married women experienced physical violence by their partners, and this proportion was much higher than that of physical violence against men (20%) . Given the reported relationship between alcohol consumption and PIPV in many studies, it is important to determine the patterns and strength of the relationship in a country with high prevalence of both heavy alcohol intake among men and PIPV experienced by women. Some studies in Uganda have already attributed high frequent occurrences of PIPV to high alcohol consumption [35, 36] but the evidence to date was based on small sample studies. Physical violence against men is a problem but the violence against women is more prevalent and more severe in the country, and for this reason this paper is focused on PIPV against women.
Much is known about factors associated with PIPV and alcohol consumption but relatively less is known about the association between problem drinking and PIPV in developing countries, especially in Africa. Furthermore, most of the few studies carried out in Africa have not had a nationwide perspective. This paper presents the prevalence of PIPV committed against women and the prevalence of problem drinking among their partners, as well as the association between PIPV and problem drinking.