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Words, Stories and Noises - BMER Women and Domestic Violence by Marai Larasi


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Words, Stories and Noises - BMER Women and Domestic Violence by Marai Larasi - A presentation given at the BSA Mental Health Study Group Symposium on 7 June 2011.

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Words, Stories and Noises - BMER Women and Domestic Violence by Marai Larasi

  2. 2. WHO WE ARE <ul><li>National organisation which provides support for black, minority ethnic and refugee (BMER) women’s NGOs who work around violence against women (VAWG) issues </li></ul><ul><li>Work includes: strategic advocacy, training, capacity- </li></ul><ul><li>building and research </li></ul>
  3. 3. THE BASICS <ul><li>BMER women experience violence in similar ways to their non-BMER counterparts e.g. violence within the home, rape, sexual assault etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Some BMER women may also experience types* of which disproportionately affect women in their communities e.g. forced marriage, female genital mutilation or violence which is carried out in the name of honour </li></ul>
  4. 4. THE CHALLENGE <ul><li>When we begin to discuss VAW as it affects BMER women and girls, the temptation is to further ‘other’ us. To use our experience of violence to demonise and further marginalise our communities. </li></ul><ul><li>The mismanagement of this discourse has a effect of further silencing women </li></ul>
  5. 5. TENSIONS <ul><li>Distorted perceptions of BAMER women can render them as less credible in certain contexts or infantilised in other contexts e.g. African-Caribbean women being seen as aggressive or South-Asian women being viewed as submissive. </li></ul><ul><li>This can affect the way a woman views: her experience of violence, her perpetrator, her community, wider society, the context in which the violence occurs, her right to seek help and the availability of support. </li></ul>
  6. 6. WOMEN’S JOURNEYS <ul><li>In over 50% of cases women were experiencing violence from multiple perpetrators including in-laws </li></ul><ul><li>Over 56% of women had suffered post-separation abuse while 41% experienced ongoing pressure from the wider community </li></ul><ul><li>Mental distress was a key feature for many women e.g. depression, panic attacks, high levels of anxiety, insomnia </li></ul><ul><li>Over 30% of women actually on prescription medication relating to depression </li></ul><ul><li>13% had attempted suicide </li></ul>
  7. 7. A SAFE HAVEN? <ul><li>The experiences of asylum-seeking women: </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to disclose sexual violence at point of entry is viewed as an indication of lying which then impacts on asylum case i.e. her account is not seen as credible </li></ul><ul><li>No access to the support provided to other victims of gender violence </li></ul><ul><li>No guarantee of being interviewed by a specially trained immigration officer who understands violence against women </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Risk on return’ assessed in ad hoc fashion with shifting goal posts so it is impossible to define what the threshold is </li></ul>
  8. 8. YOUNG WOMEN’S JOURNEYS <ul><li>Racism described as a major issue around sense of self in UK society – being treated as an outsider </li></ul><ul><li>Aware of being sexualised in the media but not feeling able to do anything about this </li></ul><ul><li>Impacted by wider negative perceptions of young black men </li></ul><ul><li>Not likely to report to police unless it was ‘really serious’ </li></ul>
  9. 9. THE IMPACT <ul><li>“ If the media portrays us negatively, we’re going to want to try to break that perception and work twice as hard. You’re always trying too hard, prove them wrong, fight your corner.” </li></ul><ul><li>Young woman participating in Imkaan focus group </li></ul>
  10. 10. SPEAKING OUT & GOING MAD <ul><li>‘ Marai dem noh understand, if me bruk down, den me mad, if mi mad who a go look after mi pickney dem’ </li></ul><ul><li>Ms J, Bullwood Hall Prison </li></ul>
  11. 11. AIN’T I A WOMAN? <ul><li>BMER women being forced into stereotypes e.g. strong, passive, aggressive etc </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of ‘permission’ to experience mental distress at the same time as stigmatising and labelling </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of creativity in responses – one size fits all approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of understanding of the importance / non-importance of spiritual practice </li></ul><ul><li>Ignoring the links between experiences of violence and mental ill-health </li></ul>
  12. 12. GAPS
  13. 13. GAPS <ul><li>Inconsistency in practice </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of joined up approaches between mental health services and VAWG services </li></ul><ul><li>Harmful stereotyping leading to some women not accessing services </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of adequate work around early intervention and prevention </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of community engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Fragmented approach </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough identification / data collection / monitoring </li></ul>
  14. 14. RECOMMENDATIONS <ul><li>Integrated multi-agency response embedded in VAWG approach which acknowledges difference </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthening policy and practice responses </li></ul><ul><li>Support for services to build sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>Early intervention and prevention </li></ul><ul><li>Effective monitoring strategies linked to centralised data collection </li></ul>
  15. 15. REFLECTIONS <ul><li>Gender equality cannot be achieved without a meaningful shift around the management of power (including individually) </li></ul><ul><li>Global gender equality cannot be achieved without addressing inequality on the grounds of race (race ‘neutrality’ is as problematic as gender ‘neutrality’) </li></ul><ul><li>It is always worth asking yourself: ‘What assumptions do I make about BMER women? What assumptions am I making right now?’ </li></ul>
  17. 17. REFERENCES <ul><li>Thiara Ravi K & Roy Sumanta, Imkaan (March 2010) Vital Statistics: The Experiences of BAMER Women and Children Facing Violence and Abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Kalathil et al, (2011) Recovery and Resilience: African, African-Caribbean and South Asian women’s narratives of recovering from mental distress </li></ul><ul><li>Ng Patricia, Imkaan (December 2010) Dispelling Myths | Speaking Truths </li></ul>
  18. 18. IMKAAN <ul><li>Website: </li></ul><ul><li>Marai Larasi: [email_address] </li></ul>