The crossroads for marginalized female victims of domestic violence

MONTREAL – Whether through discrimination, economic dependence or exclusion from their society, women from marginalized groups who are victims of violence face many additional obstacles when trying to condemn their aggressor.

It reveals the research report “Justice for Marginalized Women Who Are Victims of Gender-Based Violence”, published Thursday by researchers from the University of Quebec in Montreal in collaboration with four support organizations for female victims of domestic violence or sexual relationships.

The document is based on the testimonies of 60 workers, half working specifically with women and the other half with marginalized communities, whether they are immigrants, racist, indigenous, disabled, deaf or LGBTQ +.

“You know, for me, as a racist woman, a psychosocial worker, the police are not a sign of security for me, really not,” explained Aimée, a Montreal worker.

This reality is experienced especially by the Aborigines “due to profiling and police brutality against them, systemic discrimination, bureaucratic bureaucratic bureaucracy and the cultural insecurity one feels towards the system”, the report states.

In the LGBTQ + community, there is also a fear of not being believed if one condemns a situation of domestic violence, such as “recognizing that it may be something criminal, it is not even there, and it is a little, it is no matter if they are trans, or immigrants or whatever, it is as soon as it is present in a relationship other than heteronormative, ”explains Chloé, also from Montreal.

In addition, taking legal action means getting out, she added. “Some immigrant women may also put themselves at risk if their sexual orientation is revealed and they return to their country.”

Risk of deportation

For abusive spouses, an insecure immigration status is a weapon of choice. “Most of the time, the obstacle to termination that immigrant women experience is when the gentleman makes the lady believe that he will be able to get her to return to her country of origin,” even though it is false, emphasizes Tessy from Montérégie . Sometimes he can even hide his papers or restrict his wife’s access to basic knowledge of the Canadian legal system.

And for some immigrant women, this threat is more than empty words, recalls Juliana from Laval: “In many cases, there is a call to the police, which is either made by the woman or the spouse, and she is in detention because of his irregular status. It’s not true that it does not happen.

The director of the Federation of Women’s Shelters (FMHF), Manon Monastesse, estimates that her establishments “receive more than 95% of immigrant women”. In a telephone interview, she states that of all those who get through it, “we do not exceed 25%”, who report to the police.

Other survivors simply cannot communicate with the authorities even if they try. Those with reduced mobility or living in remote communities may not be able to afford to call or travel. For deaf or non-speaking women, it is not a guarantee that they will be provided with an interpreter despite the law to set foot in a police station.

“It happened that a mother and a child received documents from the Court (and from the Youth Center) in French, even though they neither spoke nor could read in this language. There was also no one to translate, which meant that decisions were made without that they understood some of the situation, ”testified a worker with Aboriginal communities in northern Quebec.

Exclusion from the community

Hafsa, from Montreal, tells the story of a woman who lost her job because her boss was a friend of her husband. “It was very difficult for her to find a job afterwards, as her community knew who she was and did not want to hire her. Often, the man will even make sure to visit employers in his community to see if she has found a new job.

But even though the group is not hostile to her, the woman sometimes has to isolate herself. “If there is a lesbian party in a bar, then there is A lesbian party in a bar, so if you want to join, you need to find strategies to protect yourself because there is an opportunity to meet the person,” Chloé recalls.

For women with disabilities, the addict is often their only peer helper and financial support. In this situation, “leaving a violent spouse often goes in the direction of greater financial insecurity,” added Louise Riendeau, co-head of political affairs at the Reconstruction of Homes for Women Victims of Domestic Violence (RMFVVC), in a telephone interview.

Can the special court decide everything?

François Legault’s government decision to set up courts specializing in domestic violence and sexual violence has been welcomed by many organizations in the field.

“Judges, lawyers, prosecutors and even attorneys (…) they will be trained to better understand domestic violence, sexual violence and the impact on victims,” ​​Ms Monastesse said.

However, the report notes that “no group that specifically specializes in meeting the needs of women who are deaf, sexual minorities and gender minorities, racialized (excluding Aboriginal people) or of immigrant origin are interlocutors of the government in the various implementation committees” in these courts . . According to the study, issues such as discrimination and prejudice, the risk of deportation or access to an interpreter therefore risk being ignored.

The authors of the research are Professor Geneviève Pagé and student researchers Sarah Thibault and Carole Boulebsol. The partner organizations are RMFVVC, FMHF, Regroupement québécois des CALACS and Concertation des Luttes contre l’Exploitation Sexuale.

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This article was produced with financial support from Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.

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