Partner violence against migrant women
Disease, disasters, drought, famine, climate change, the terrorist threat, oppressive regimes… the list of problems facing people the world over continues to grow and the number of people displaced from their homes for any of a variety of such reasons means populations are constantly on the move. Migrant make risky crossings through deserts, across water, seeking asylum, seeking a new life in the hope that there is grass, greener or otherwise. However, the pressures on people forced to abandon their homes means there are problems within the migrant communities on the move too that may arise while they are in transit or latent problems that were always there emerge anew.
Writing in the International Journal of Gender Studies in Developing Societies, Nour Daoud of the University of Padova, in Italy, discusses an insidious problem, that of intimate partner violence in migrant communities. The main goal of the work was to understand the exposure to and impact of such violence against migrant women, what causes it, and what barriers the women face to disclosing that the violence is happening and how they might seek help. She has carried out a systematic review of the empirical evidence surrounding this problem.
Ultimately, the study reveals that fundamentally the problem is violent men, but that the causes at the individual level are common to migrant and non-migrant communities: alcohol and substance abuse, the reversal of gender roles, and the apparent social "acceptability" of such violence in a given environment or community.
The barriers to the women seeking help seem familiar in the context of non-migrant communities, but are perhaps more acute when women are in this even more vulnerable situation. These barriers include social isolation, lack of awareness about where to seek help, dependence on the men, distress regarding the stigma associated with seeking help, and fear of losing or leaving their children or the breakdown of their family.