Supporting Muslim Victims of Domestic Violence: Addressing the Vulnerabilities and Capitalising on the Strengths

October 16, 2017

Ms Sandra Elhelw Wright, Policy Officer / Research Student  at Victim Support ACT / Australian National University joins us at this year’s STOP Domestic Violence Conference to discuss “Supporting Muslim victims of domestic violence: Addressing the vulnerabilities and capitalising on the strengths”.

Sandra Elhelw Wright

This paper analyses the current mainstream and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) approaches to tertiary domestic violence interventions, identifies the gaps for Muslim women, and proposes strategies to better address those gaps. Thirty two Australian Muslim women who have lived experience of domestic violence (DV) were surveyed, and interviews were conducted with Muslim women with lived experience, religious and community leaders, Muslim women’s advocates, and service providers.

To date, there has been little research that has specifically focused on Muslim women’s experiences of domestic violence. The practice frameworks used to work with them have generally been designed to apply to CALD women as a broader group. However, just as there is diversity within women, there is diversity within CALD women and it is necessary to unpack the several layers of diversity in order for approaches to be congruent with women’s needs.

This research unpacks the impact of faith identity for Muslim women as a further layer of intersectional identity that must be taken into account to provide effective support to Muslim women.The research showed that there are factors that are particularly pertinent to Muslim women. Of those, some are not addressed at all in the existing practice frameworks for tertiary domestic violence interventions. Others are addressed in frameworks but not implemented in practice for a variety of reasons.

The research also finds that Islam and Muslim communities have a number of protective factors that can be used to enhance outcomes for Muslim women. These strengths are currently being under-utilised by the sector. A number of recommendations are made for addressing the particular vulnerabilities of Muslim women, as well as drawing on the strengths of Islam and Muslim communities in order to improve outcomes for Muslim women who experience domestic violence.

The 2017 STOP Domestic Violence Conference will embark on the theme of ‘Domestic Violence Does Not Discriminate’ with nine featured speakers and over 50 expert stream/ workshop presenters.  The Conference aims to provide a platform for a unified national voice on ending domestic violence.

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