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The Joint Forum Women's Group - Abstract - Jackie Patiniotis and Lisa White
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The Joint Forum Women's Group - Abstract - Jackie Patiniotis and Lisa White



The Joint Forum Women's Group - Abstract - Jackie Patiniotis and Lisa White - a presentation at A Difficult Alliance? Making Connections between Mental Health and Domestic Violence Research and ...

The Joint Forum Women's Group - Abstract - Jackie Patiniotis and Lisa White - a presentation at A Difficult Alliance? Making Connections between Mental Health and Domestic Violence Research and Practice Agendas on 7 June 2011



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The Joint Forum Women's Group - Abstract - Jackie Patiniotis and Lisa White The Joint Forum Women's Group - Abstract - Jackie Patiniotis and Lisa White Presentation Transcript

    • Key aims of JFWG:
    • to provide a safe space for women to discuss issues relating to women’s mental health
    • to raise awareness of gendered / social causes of women’s mental health
    • to give women a voice to lobby for improvements and changes to women’s services, and to campaign on wider issues that effect women’s mental health and wellbeing
  • Politics of naming violence against women
    • CEDAW states that gender based violence is violence which is directed at a woman because she is a woman or which affects women disproportionately. It includes acts which inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion or other deprivations of liberty. CEDAW affirmed that violence against women constitutes a violation of women’s human rights. "Violence against women continues to persist as one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world. It is a threat to all women, and an obstacle to all our efforts for development, peace, and gender equality in all societies. Violence against women is always a violation of human rights; it is always a crime; and it is always unacceptable. Let us take this issue with the deadly seriousness that it deserves." Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General
  • Gender based violence and mental health
    • Most women who have attended JFWG have experienced male violence
    • Women’s experiences central to work of the group
    • Women introduced to feminist ideas and evidence re structural causes of women’s inequality & consequent mental distress
    • Raised awareness of gender oppression creates political basis for lobbying
  • Social model of mental health Understanding violence against women as a widespread social problem challenges the dominance of the medical model of mental health that constructs violence against women as an individual problem for the woman, or a medical problem associated with the perpetrator. “ women are messed over, not messed up” Carol Hanisch
    • Identifying violence against women and girls as a product of gender power relations conflicts with explanations that refer to biological, hormonal reactions or stress, alcohol etc as triggers for, or causes of, male violence against women
  • Mental health issues are more likely to result from domestic violence than to cause it. This message is integral to the work with the women’s group.
  • Need for Women Only Space “ women only space is empowering for women because it encourages them to see themselves through their own eyes, transcending the unequal gender dynamics that have shaped their identities” bell hooks, quoted in Power and Prejudice, WRC, 2010
  • In the women's forum I feel free to express my true self, my true opinions and listen/share with other women.  Much common ground, common feelings and many, many common areas of experience can be exchanged which I would not express freely in mixed company. It's value cannot be measured in mere words. My interest is unwavering and includes many points, including the continued existence of the group itself.  It is of vital importance that women can discuss issues, areas or interest, or exchange opinions regarding women's world.  This is much more possible in a female only area, especially for those who have experienced negative reactions in mixed areas. (member of JFWG)
    • “ If we can’t look at gender, there is no point talking about women’s mental health issues because gender is one of the key factors ... I don’t think its possible for us to talk about these issues in mixed sex groups. I don’t think women feel safe in talking about these issues in mixed sex groups” ( member of JFWG in WRC Power and Prejudice report, p 29)
  • Tensions within the mixed sex service user group
    • To focus on men and men’s violence to women, unsettles, makes problematic, the way men are, not just in the doing of particular actions of violence but also more generally. It raises question marks against men’s behaviour in general.
    • (Hearn, quoted in McCarry, 2007: 411)
  • Alliances with the Women’s Sector
    • Women’s Resource Centre
    • Women’s National Commission
    • Merseyside Women’s Movement / RASA
    • Feminists working in Liverpool John Moores Sociology Dept
  • As an Irish woman with mental health problems, I'm glad the JF Women's Group is there for me.  It's the only place where I know I won't have to put up with either offensive sexism or "jokes" about my nationality.  The group is like a haven for me.  It reminds me that there are good people around, and that not everyone goes along with the dominant culture of sleaze, sexism and misogyny.  It's the only place where I feel comfortable saying, for instance, that rap music makes me feel hurt, frightened and degraded, or that having to walk past "lap dancing" clubs has the same effect.  It's the only group that gets the connection between women's treatment in society and our mental health.  It gives me hope.
  • “ being a feminist today is quite a political act! Just to introduce oneself in public as a feminist, taking into account  all the stereotypes, myths and wrong ideas that still prevail in our society, constitutes an act of courage, with personal costs and psychological consequences.” (Lucinda Saldanha: Living Feminism as a young 21st Century Woman, EWL)
  • Feminist standpoint The JFWG started from a position of women’s oppression within a mixed sex user group, and has transformed the consciousness of some women service users to raise personal awareness and trigger political action.
  • 'WE OBJECT': Our PhotoVoice inspired photography project in collaboration with the Sociology Department at Liverpool John Moores University
  • "I feel disempowered, afraid and embarrassed     when I pass this bus stop, as it is next to a lap dancing club.     It's horrible having to walk past the sniggering schoolboys who     are laughing at the pornographic posters."
  • I avoid this street at night
  • "I feel disempowered and angry and violated when I walk down this street, as there is a lap dancing club on it. The closer I get to that awful venue, the worse I feel.  I feel some relief after I've passed it. It's worse when there are men around."
  • women say they do not feel safe when using this bus stop.
  • society looks down on women
  • How can an understanding of violence against women and girls as an assertion of male power, and a cause and consequence of women’s inequality, be incorporated into mental health policy, inform service delivery, and be taken up by user groups?