Women from all societies experience violence, and their responses to it are impacted by a variety of influences, including the differing values and norms of their community and culture. By understanding the fluid nature of culture, service providers can better respond to women’s unique circumstances and needs. Integrating support for women from diverse cultures may be promoted through a variety of practices which:
New Zealand’s National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges employs staff able to communicate in various languages to meet the needs of different ethnic and migrant groups across the country. Four ethnic safe houses provide culturally appropriate services specifically for Asian, African and Middle Eastern ethnic groups, including support for Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Malay, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Korean, Indian, Fiji Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Iraqi and African families (Secretary-General’s Database, Women’s Shelters).
The Swedish non-profit organization, Terrafem, runs shelters and a hotline for women victims of violence. The hotline offers assistance in 43 languages, and the organization can offer legal advice in 25 languages. Importantly, any calls placed to Terrafem are free-of-charge and will not be listed on a phone bill.
Case Study: Imkaan—Supporting Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic, and Refugee Survivors (United Kingdom)
Imkaan is a national organization in the United Kingdom which represents and assists frontline support providers for Black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee (BMER) women and girls who have experienced various forms of violence, including domestic and sexual abuse, and forced marriage, or are at-risk of honour-based crimes. With over 13 years of experience, the organization serves as a representative of and provides support to shelters and other organizations specializing in support for BMER women and child survivors across the United Kingdom. The organization has contributed to strengthening specialist services available to these women and bringing together specialist organizations through training, research, capacity development support, and strategic advocacy. The network uses a grassroots approach to implement its work, based on the needs of service providers and the views and voices of the women and children they support.
Read the full Case Study.
Source: Marai Larasi, Director. Imkaan; Imkaan Website.
Cultural Competence Self-Assessment Questionnaire, Service Provider Version (United States Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2006). This questionnaire was designed to assist human service professionals to assess and identify training needs in the area of cultural competence. Based on the context in the United States, the questionnaire was developed from a strengths-based perspective, with recognition that cultural competency is a developmental process. Available in English.
Inside Out: Strengthening Advocacy and Services for Refugee, Immigrant, and Limited English Proficient Survivors: A Guide to Self-Assessment and Planning for Domestic Violence Programs (Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2005). This tool provides guidance on how to conduct a shelter self-assessment of cultural competency, including how to complete the assessment process and develop a plan to improve cultural competency in the shelter. Surveys to gather input from shelter staff and survivors are provided. Available in English.
Model Protocol on Services for Limited English Proficient Immigrant and Refugee Victims of Domestic Violence (Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2007) provides an example of a protocol used in the context of the United States. Available in English.
Toolkit for Lawyers: Best Practices in working with Battered Immigrant Women (Battered Women’s Support Services, 2010) is a practical resource for lawyers working with immigrant women leaving abusive relationships. This document may be useful in developing resources for immigrant women in shelters, such as in providing information and advocacy within the legal system and in developing a list of local resources for women in Edmonton. Available in English.
Creating Inclusive Spaces for Women: A Practical Guide for Implementing and Integrated Anti-Racist, Feminist Service Delivery System (Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, 2005) was created to help shelters maintain welcoming, respectful, and inclusive spaces for women and their children. The how-to-manual contains practical ideas, suggestions, and specific strategies to help shelters celebrate the successes already realized, determine how your organizational structure, employment practices, and programs and services can be enhanced and develop a step-by-step realistic work plan to make the changes. Available in English.
Violence Knows No Boundaries: Diverse Cultural Perspectives, Legal Resources and Safety Information on Domestic Violence for Service Providers. (Tunstall and Damjanovic, 2008). This resource provides surveys that can be used to assist staff working with immigrant and refugee women in vulnerable situations to develop their capacity to support women from diverse cultures by reflecting on their own cultural competency (See Individual Self-Assessment Checklist for Cultural Competency, page 86).