AFTER 20 months of development and analysis, a local project to help women and girls who are vulnerable to violence committed in the name of “honour” has learned that the label can be misleading and put potential victims at risk.
The MOSAIC-led project Preventing and Reducing Violence Against Women and Girls in the Name of “Honour”, is funded by Status of Women Canada and has turned up some key findings and recommendations.
“Our work has shown that the focus must remain on violence against women and not stigmatize immigrant women with the notion that what they may have experienced is vastly different from what Canadian-born women have faced,” said Marc Larrivee, Senior Manager of Specialized Services at MOSAIC. She added that the concept of “honour” may prevent women from accessing services they need.
Violence committed that is often described as “honour-based” is a phenomenon where a person (most commonly a woman) is subjected to violence by her family or community in order to restore “honour”, presumed to have been lost by her behaviour. It is prevalent enough that half of the local anti-violence service agencies who participated in the project indicated that they have been involved in cases of this type.
The objective of this project is to support women and girls by collaborating with community, justice and immigrant serving agencies to develop and implement a multi-agency strategy to better assist women and girls who are at risk of, or have experienced, violence perpetrated in the name of honour.
Qualitative research was conducted with focus group members whose cultures have been identified with experiencing violence perpetrated in the name of “honour”, while quantitative research was conducted with provincial anti-violence organizations.
The key findings are that there is not enough understanding and awareness regarding violence committed in the name of “honour”, and that there are varying perceptions about the concept itself.
The project is concluding with recommendations that: promoting awareness among immigrant and refugee women will help prevent and reduce violence committed against women and girls in the name of honour; engaging communities in dialogue will decrease the risks and barriers associated with shame, and help empower women to seek support; educating service providers about violence perpetrated in the name of honour will improve standards of care.
A compelling 30- second video and a poster with the messaging that “There is no Honour in Violence Against Women” has been created and local media is being asked to provide support with PSAs. Also being developed for service providers is a risk assessment tool and a training curriculum which will be tested and assessed in 2015.
MOSAIC is a non-profit organization and the primary settlement and employment services agency in Vancouver assisting newcomers in Canada with over 40 programs and 30 client sites across Metro Vancouver. MOSAIC also offers specialized services for vulnerable families and immigrants.