Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Big hurdles for women: Study

Vancouver Province
Immigrant victims face huge barriers, need more help
Christina Montgomery, The Province
Published: Friday, April 27, 2007

Immigrant women who suffer domestic violence must leap massive hurdles to get help in B.C. -- and to carry on with their lives afterward -- says a new study by the Justice Institute of B.C.

The study, released yesterday to mark Prevention of Violence Against Women Week in the province, found:

- Language barriers play a key role in isolating women socially.

- Immigrant women lack information about Canadian laws, rights, services -- even the simple understanding that domestic violence is a crime.

- Women sponsored as immigrants by their husbands have a tough time accessing financial legal help because of the impact on their sponsor. Women in Canada on visitors' visas are cut off from health care or financial aid.

- Lower income levels for immigrant women in general keep such women from the housing, jobs, daycare and transportation they need for independence.

- Agencies serving such women need a broad mandate in which they can serve as the de facto extended family to replace the one that the victim of domestic violence is frequently cut off from.

The findings come on the heels of several high-profile assaults in B.C. on women from immigrant communities that have underlined the need for such victims to "seek the help they need and end the violence in their lives," Justice Institute spokeswoman Shelley Rivkin said yesterday.

Last October, the charred body of Surrey teacher Manjit Panghali was found off Deltaport Way. Her husband and brother-in-law have been charged in connection with her death.

In February, Surrey mom Amanpreet Bahia was found beaten to death in her home. No charges have been laid.

According to Statistics Canada, B.C. was second among all provinces in reports of domestic violence in 2004, the last year for which figures are available.

The study was based on in-depth interviews with 75 women from broad cultural groups including Asian, Filipina, Latin American and South American.

Further research was done with service providers who deal with victims of domestic violence.

Partnered with the Justice Institute on the project were the Vancouver and Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society, the Prince George Elizabeth Fry Society and MOSAIC, a Vancouver-based multicultural society.