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Analysis of a group with low social power in the student’s community: Diversity and Oppression: Victims of Domestic Violence






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Analysis of a group with low social power in the student’s community: Diversity and Oppression: Victims of Domestic Violence Analysis of a group with low social power in the student’s community: Diversity and Oppression: Victims of Domestic Violence Presentation Transcript

  • Electronic International Social Work Collaboration Analysis of a group with low social power in the student’s community: Diversity and Oppression: Victims of Domestic Violence BY: GITA JAGLAL BANKAY University of the West Indies Trinidad and Tobago
  • South Oropouche
  • Introduction to Student’s community
    • Geographic location: South Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
    • Name of Community: South Oropouche
    • Background: Villagers worked in the oilfields, however, closure of oil wells and drilling stations led to mass unemployment . (Ministry of Planning: Household Budget Survey (97/98).
    • Citizens experienced financial distress: National Insurance Board’s Report (1988): notes that nationally:
    • 80% of mortgage portfolios were in arrears;
    • the Structural Adjustment Programme(1982-1990) led to the new poor, improper health and nutritional care, alcohol and drug abuse.
    • Upsurge of violence within homes led to trauma, death.
  • Introduction continued……
    • The victims of domestic violence (women, children, elders) the most vulnerable targets of oppression in this community. They become recluses in their homes, subservient to their abuser, always burdened with worries .The family is ostracized from society.
    • . F unctionalist Durkheim’s outlook on the rise of domestic violence, as an early warning system that a part of the society is malfunctioning and is in need of social engineering. (Mustapha 2000).
    • Rural : population settlement patterns are both scattered in small clusters (villages) and linear along the main roads where the main economic activity is skewed towards manufacturing (soft drinks), trade, services
    • Predominant diverse ethnic groups: Africans, East Indians and within the last 5 years the Chinese have entered the community (construction workers/restaurateurs).
    • Population size: approximately 3,500 persons
    • Population Age: Mixed ages, but mainly Aging, due to better health care/service and migration of youths to urban centres
    • There are more women than men. This observation is supported by:
    • i) The Draft National Policy on Gender Development (2007), showing
    • a higher number of single female headed households;
    • ii) more women are visible in community based programmes – The Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP), Unemployment Relief Programme (URP).
  • Linear Settlement in South Oropouche -small businesses: owners of the means of production
  • Cluster of houses in South Oropouche: Non-ownership of the means of production
  • Social structures
    • Mixed levels of social strata : largest comprising the lower-income level
    • Marx’s view that society is characterized by class inequality-results in people having 2 different positions:
    • i) Relationship of ownership to the means of production (land,capital)
    • -refer to those who live in linear settlement , along the main roads
    • ii) non-ownership - those living in the interior, narrow road clusters, comprise the working class.
  • CONTEXT OF OPPRESSION for Domestic Violence
    • Historically, McCaghy (1985) discovered the following:
    • i) Domestic Violence( D.V.) was given legal status, as wife beatings were permitted as long as “the whip used was not bigger than the thumb”.
    • ii) It was legal privilege: as the laws permitted, expected, accepted it.
    • iii) A wife cannot vex, discredit nor shame the family’s name, This is applicable to the community of South Oropouche.
    • DV in this community occasionally ends in fermicide: murder of women by their batterers . In Trinidad and Tobago, DV deaths quadrupled from 9 in 2004 to 36 in 2008. The Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs (2009), revealed that death by domestic violence has quadrupled in five (5)years, a 60% increase.
  • CONTEXT OF OPPRESSION ( continued…
    • Some control/oppression experienced by victims on daily basis:
    • i) Overtly enforced social isolation : (Regehr and Glancy,1995),mails/ telephones monitored/disconnected, no interaction with family and friends.
    • ii) Psychological abuse- constant undermining of the victim’s inadequacy as a parent and lover, sense of self, ridiculing and humiliation
    • iii) Financial Abuse- seizing victim’s paycheck, grocery & other receipts monitored, jointly owned assets removed to abuser’s name, denying victim access to education, refusing to pay maintenance.
    • iv) Threats to hurt the children, self or spouse or items they treasure
    • v) With-holding important documents: ID Cards, passport, driver’s permit
    • vi) Physical abuse : punching, slapping, kicking, hitting with objects
    • vii) Sexual Abuse : forced to sexually appease abuser, rape (38% by husbands,13% by lovers and 6% by strangers)(Websdale,1998, p11).
    • Victims of Domestic Violence include women, children and elders who constitute those of low socio-economic class: little finance, poor housing/squatters; low literacy rates and irregular employment . These lack bargaining power, equity/equality in accessing resources.
    • Persons living with substance abusers: Gelles (1974) related that drugs and alcohol influenced men to attack their wives only when they are intoxicated or “high”,as such, people who are in such environments have a higher probability of being victims of Domestic Violence
    • The poor, uneducated women and children- part of the systemic poor. Theory of Intergenerativity explains that the cycle of poverty from childhood, galvanized some to the lifestyle of poverty and domestic violence.
    • Victims of Domestic Violence make numerous reports to the police and take out restraining/protective orders. Most report that the criminal justice system are unresponsive and depersonalized.
    • The victims described the police as placing them in a passive situation. The police demonstrate lack of cooperation, insensitivity and failure to act. This may be because this oppressed group may be considered without a VOICE and lack the power to change their situation.
    • Alwin,(1984) states that DV victims are stressed due to overload and multiple demands : housework, parenting, decision making without a partner.( Hepworth and Larsen,2002)
    • These stressors are encountered at the same time , leaving the victim with feelings of failure in the relationship, loss of valuable friendships and may be living in poverty .
    • Danieli (1998) study stated that trauma and its impact often become a part of the family legacy, pass down through the generations. (Yarvis, et al.,2004) This indicates that despite efforts, the effects of Domestic Violence are cyclic and it is difficult for some to get out of its grasp.
    • Oppression results in victims suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) : problems that are developed outside the coping ability of the victim, following a psychologically stressful event (beating) .
    • Creates fear: one symptom is hyper arousal , demonstrated by the victim’s persistent expectation of danger and is manifested by startled reactions, hyper- alertness/arousal and vigilance for the return of dangers, nightmares and psychosomatic complaints.
    • DV impacts on the victim’s psyche, who may decide to leave with the children and move to a home, shelter, enter a victim-witness protection programme. This physical displacement to a new location complicates psychological recovery , disrupts belongingness and rooted ness and often magnifies the effects of the trauma felt by DV. (Mahoney 2004).
    • In Trinidad and Tobago, cases filed at the Magistrate's Court increased from 8,976 in 2003 to 11,629 in 2009, a 60% increase in 5years.(The Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs in 2009).
    • Victims of domestic violence represents one of the most vulnerable groups of society and as such, access to resources, finance, education are not readily available.
    • They survive on past coping strategies but lack basic and much needed social support from the immediate community, society and by large, the Government.
    • Inadequate structures, rehabilitative services, ineffective legislation/policies affects this group.
  • Significance of oppression in terms of SOCIAL JUSTICE
    • Police officers are the first representatives of the criminal justice system who victims encounter. Conflict with victims erupt because of :
    • Slowness to respond
    • Reluctance to believe victim’s account of what happened
    • Inability/ Unwillingness to make an arrest of abuser
    • Insensitivity on the part of some police officers towards victims at a time of great vulnerability
  • SOCIAL JUSTICE continued……
    • Arrests are not automatic. Police officers exercise a great deal of personal and departmental discretion in deciding if to, who to arrest/release because of the pressure from colleagues, superiors, personal stance, nature of offense and the relationship between the offender and victim.
    • Dismissed cases, dropped charges and disturbing deals make victims feel abandoned and that satisfaction is denied. The prosecutor determination is based on limited state resources, whether indictment serves as a deterrent or other social purposes or to enhance his career. Nine out of ten cases are resolved by ‘plea bargain’ rather than trial ( Defendant agrees to make a confession- drops certain charges). Limiting social justice?
    • Lawyers abusing continuances of cases to wear victims down (stall proceedings to buy time) by creating scheduling difficulties and asking for postponements. Discrediting victims on the witness stands; decision making behind closed doors. These interferes with natural social justice.
    • This vulnerable group require social work intervention to restore their social functioning
    • Social worker’s roles as advocates, facilitators, counselors, brokers, catalysts are crucial
    • Use of social work skills: empathy, unconditional positive regard, congruence, active listening to build relationships with the oppressed.
    • Empowerment of individuals: access to information and services, training, new skills, to help themselves, learn coping mechanism, develop capacity in order to maintain sustainable livelihood .
  • Social Work continued…..
    • Social workers should be acutely aware of the culture and diversity of rural communities, as South Oropouche.
    • Be non-judgmental, allow clients to self determination, be self aware of biases and prejudices .
    • Social workers can develop agency supports for families and women experiencing domestic violence
    • Form linkages with Government Agencies, NGOs, CBOs, Private Sector and other stakeholders
  • Existing Supports for Abused Women in South Trinidad:
    • Legislation : Domestic Violence Act.
    • (Act No. 27 of 1999)
    • Services : Rape Crisis Society, Half way Houses- the Missionaries of Charity, St. Vincent De Paul’s Home for Working Women; Children Homes: Hope Centre, Operation Smile, Mother’s Union.
  • Halfway House- Missionaries of Charity, South Oropouche
  • Significance of oppression in terms of Human Rights
    • The International community has developed instruments and mechanisms which provide a framework within which member countries can deal with DV.
    • These have been ratified and incorporated into Trinidad and Tobago’s constitution. Such as:
    • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR,1948):
    • Article 1 states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and human right.
    • Article 2 states that “everyone is entitled to all rights, freedoms set forth in the declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as …sex, or other status”.
    • Article 3 states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.
    • Article 5 states that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
    • These provisions indicates that violence against women violates human rights.
  • Human Rights continued……
    • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR,1966): Articles 2, 6, 7, 9, covers issues of gender based violence.
    • The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW, 1993),recognizes that gender violence is rooted historically in unequal power relations and outlines the duties of the state. Trinidad and Tobago are signatories.
    • The Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC); States take measures to protect children from all abuse.
    • Effective implementations of these provisions, training, providing more facilities, passing of more relevant laws may positively reduce oppression and violence.
  • What Can be Done?
    • Need for ongoing Government support, commitment and political will for decision making.
    • Involve all stakeholders: relevant Governments departments, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, victims/survivors, in policy making.
    • Special training for Police officers, Judiciary, service providers
    • Provide more crisis centres, shelters for women and children.
    • New legislation: unemployment compensation to cover loss of jobs due to DV; emergency leave for victims of DV, to source legal, medical help, counseling and safety planning; waive certain eligibility clauses for social welfare.
    • Collecting, compiling and analyzing data and maintain a data base.
    • Identify sources of funding
    • Set criteria for monitoring and evaluating action taken.
    • Hepworth, D.H.,Rooney, R.H., Larsen, JoAnn.2002. Direct Social Work Practice: Theory and Skills . 6 th Edition. Thompson Learning Inc: CA.
    • Holder-Dolly, Jennifer and Sogren Michelle. 2004. The Caribbean Journal of Social Work : Volume 3: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children in Trinidad and Tobago. A rawak Publications.
    • McCaghy H. Charles.1985. Deviant Behavior- Crime, Conflict and Interest Groups. Second Edition. MacMillan Publishers Co. Ltd.: New York, USA.
    • Melville, Juliet and Wint, Eleanor. 2007. A new Perspective on Poverty in the Caribbean: The strength of a participatory approach . Ian Randle Publishers: Kingston, Jamaica.
    • Ministry of Planning and Development, Central Statistical Data, Household Budget Survey (97/98), Vol. II- Household Income and Expenditure p. 1-3.
    • Mustapha, Naseer. (2000). Sociology for Caribbean Students: Development and Social Change . Ian Randle Publishers: Kingston, Jamaica.
  • REFERENCES (continued)
    • Oguli Ouma Margaret (et al.).2002. Promoting an Integrated Approach: to Combat Gender Base Violence . Training Program. Commonwealth Secretariat: London.
    • Valley C. Kenneth, Marshall E. Morris.1990. In Defense of the People’s Interest. UNO Advertising: Port of Spain, Trinidad.
    • Wolbert Burgess Ann, Regehr Cheryl, Roberts R. Albert. 2010. Victimology: Theories and applications . Jones and Bartlett Publishers: Massachusetts,USA.
    • Websdale, Neil.1998.Rural Woman Battering and the Justice System: An Ethnography. Sage Publications, Inc.: Ca., USA.
    • Yarvis Jeffrey (et al.). 2004. The Caribbean Journal of Social Work: Volume 3: Haitian Immigrants in the United States Intergenerational Trauma Transmission, Adaptation and Ethnic Identity . Arawak Publications.