Violence Against Women in CALD Communities

DSS - AMES logos

Violence Against Women occurs across the social spectrum and in all cultures. However certain groups of women are particularly vulnerable to being victimised, and men to perpetrating violence, owing to their greater exposure to known risk factors for this violence. Among these are some CALD communities. This report examines this issue from many perspectives and is a well-resourced overview for those entering the field of dealing with Violence Against Women in CALD Communities.


Women from CALD backgrounds may be affected by other forms of violence, in particular racially-motivated violence. This form of violence is serious and it
is important that it is addressed. It is anticipated that some of the principles in this report and the strategies proposed will be useful in addressing racially-motivated violence against CALD women through policy settings to prevent racism in Australia. However, examining racially-motivated violence against women and strategies to prevent it were beyond the scope of this report.

Defining the Prevention of Violence Against Women

While intervening in violence and preventing violence from reoccurring across the population is essential, the focus of the project was on development of a primary prevention strategy.

Primary prevention involves strategies to target factors that cause or contribute to a problem before it occurs. Primary prevention strategies can be implemented at a whole-of-population level or adopt a refined focus on specific sub populations.

As illustrated in Figure 1 below, primary prevention complements but contrasts with early intervention (taking action on the early signs of violence) and
Intervention (intervening after the violence has occurred) described below.

 

 

Early intervention – taking action on the early signs of violence

Sometimes referred to as secondary prevention, early intervention is targeted at individuals and groups who exhibit early signs of perpetrating violent behaviour or of being subject to violence. Early intervention strategies can be aimed at changing behaviours or increasing the skills of individuals and groups. Violence against women takes any forms. It often begins with subtly controlling behaviours and escalates into a pattern of coercion and physical violence. At the individual level early intervention can seek to address controlling behaviours before they become established patterns.

Intervention – intervening after the violence has occurred

Sometimes referred to as tertiary prevention, these strategies are implemented after violence occurs and aim to deal with the violence, prevent its consequences and ensure that it does not occur again or escalate. Examples are crisis accommodation and social support for victims and criminal justice and therapeutic interventions for perpetrators.

Priority for Recently Arrived Communities

Although the project had a focus on all CALD communities, particular emphasis was placed on new arrivals to Australia. This focus is consistent with contemporary policies concerned with the settlement of migrant and Humanitarian program entrants and is indicated in relevant research.

Understanding Violence Against Women in CALD Communities

Factors contributing to Violence Against Women are the focus of primary prevention. Syntheses of the research suggests that this problem is rooted in gender inequality and is best understood as the result of three inter-related clusters of factors including:

  • unequal and disrespectful relationships between men and women, and rigidly stereotyped gender roles and identities
  • factors that support the learning of violent behaviour and permit violence to occur with impunity
  • factors that intersect or interact with gender inequality to shape particular patterns of violence or increase the risk of violence occurring (e.g. poverty).

These factors affect individual behaviours in families and in relationships between men and women, as well as practices, norms and structures in communities, organisations and society-wide institutions such as the media.

CALD communities are exposed to many of the same influences as the population as a whole and these are documented in detail elsewhere (VicHealth 2007; UN 2006; WHO & London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 2010). While there is diversity within and between communities, specific factors may also be relevant in understanding violence affecting women from CALD backgrounds. These are summarised in Table 1.

 

 

Efforts to Prevent Violence Against Women in CALD communities should be underpinned by the following principles:

  • Violence Against Women is a one of the most prevalent and serious human rights violations in the world and can contribute to intergenerational cycles of abuse and disadvantage. Addressing Violence Against Women in CALD communities is a critical task of settlement policy and practice in Australia.
  • Violence Against Women occurs across the social spectrum and in all cultures. However certain groups of women are particularly vulnerable to being victimised, and men to perpetrating violence, owing to their greater exposure to known risk factors for this violence. Among these are some CALD communities.
  • It is important to anticipate and manage the risk that prevention activity may be used to further stigmatise some CALD groups. However, Violence Against Women is too prevalent and serious for this risk to be a reason for inaction.
  • Preventing Violence Against Women in CALD communities requires a rights-based approach that prioritises the safety, agency and empowerment of women.
  • There is substantial diversity between and within CALD communities. When planning, developing, implementing and evaluating strategies to Prevent Violence Against Women in CALD communities, the varying cultural, religious, social and economic circumstances of communities need to be considered.
  • A strategy to Prevent Violence Against Women among CALD communities needs to respond to increasing diversity in the composition of the migration program, as well as geographic diversity in settlement patterns in Australia.
  • Violence Against Women is rooted in gender inequality, including discrimination and harmful cultural and social norms.
  • Gender inequality, roles, relationships and identities and the norms, practices and structures supporting them are influenced by a range of historical and contemporary social and economic factors. Therefore they are variable between groups. For this reason, assessing the ways in which gender relations are structured in specific groups and the ways in which they influence Violence Against Women is an important first step.
  • Some factors contributing to Violence Against Women in CALD communities involve current or past adversity for perpetrators of violence. These factors can provide the context for understanding violence and need to be addressed. However, they do not excuse violent behaviour. The use of violence is a choice and it is important that men who use violence are held accountable for their behaviour through informal and, where necessary, formal social sanctions.
  • Culture is neither fixed nor an inherent feature of particular individuals or groups. Rather it is shaped and therefore can be changed by social and economic forces.

Download this report on Violence Against Women in CALD Communities

 

DSS - AMES logos