Snapshot: Family Violence and Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Women

Below is a quick summary and link to the a full review that examines extant literature on family violence and migrant women, focusing specifically on refugee and asylum-seeking women. This summary and review bring together current knowledge on this topic, in order to address the significant gaps in our understanding, especially in relation to the geographical context of Australia.

The summary themes are organised by temporal points of women’s experiences of travel: before, during, and after their journeys.

Summary Themes by Temporality

Before Journey

  1. There is a focus in research on public violence despite widespread occurrences of family violence in conflict/post-conflict societies that remain understudied.
  2. Family violence is normalised in conflict/post-conflict societies.
  3. Conflict intensifies existing patterns of family violence.
  4. Many responses to violence against women are focused on non-familial sexual violence despite the prevalence of family violence.

During Journey

  1. Family violence in understudied in displaced populations and within refugee camps because of its “private” nature, the difficulty in studying shifting populations, women’s lack of citizenship and access to health care within transit countries.
  2. Financial issues have serious impact on incidences of family violence during displacement and within refugee camps.
  3. The unsafe and fluctuating environments and shifting gender roles during displacement and within refugee camps is directly related to increased family violence.
  4. Demographics, such as age, have an effect on levels of family violence during displacement and within refugee camps.
  5. There is a lack of support for women who are victims of family violence for several reasons: laws may not exist/be enforced within transit counties, laws may support traditional gender roles, women may fear retaliation from abusers or have a fear of authorities due to past experience, and new informal structure of justice may emerge within displaced communities may emerge based on traditional gender norms.

After Journey

  1. Family violence is understudied within settlement in host countries and the majority of the studies are from the US context.
  2. There are heightened risks of family violence during settlement due to shifting gender roles, women’s empowerment in the form of employment and English competency, lack of family support, and financial burdens.
  3. There are barriers to reporting during settlement because of cultural, community, and language differences, as well as legal and financial issues.
  4. The responses to family violence within host countries must focus on health systems and financial support, education and support of communities, and be culturally-sensitive, centring refugee voices.

Read Full review here.


About brandyc

PhD Candidate, Momash University Communication & Media Strategist, Border Crossing Observatory: Research Assistant Post-Graduate Representative, Sustainable Transport Committee Blog: Twitter: @brandy_cochrane