Violence Against Women in South Asian Communities
Release Date:15 Oct 2009
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Violence Against Women in South Asian Communities

Issues for Policy and Practice

Illustrated by Rowena Macaulay; Foreword by Liz Kelly; Edited by Ravi Thiara and Aisha Gill
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

While forced marriage and 'honour-based' violence attract media attention, little is known about the issues and experiences of South Asian women and children who are affected by gendered violence.

This book explores the key theoretical and empirical issues involved in gendered violence, ethnicity and South Asian communities. The editors draw together leading researchers and practitioners to provide a critical reflection of contemporary debates and consider how these reflections can inform policy, research and practice. The contributors consider the primacy of religion and culture, and how South Asian women face multiple and intersecting forms of violence. Future directions for facilitating improved services for survivors of violence against women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are also proposed.

Violence Against Women in South Asian Communities will have widespread relevance for professional academics, researchers, students, policy makers, practitioners and anyone concerned with gendered violence within South Asian communities.

Overall, it is a well edited and balanced collection which provides a good introduction to the field while not shying away from the detail needed to fully describe and analyse the complex policy and practice issues. Thiara and Gill are ideally positioned to edit this collection, since they are both actively involved in the international movement to combat violence against women and hold key policy and practice expositions alongside their academic roles. This undoubtedly has helped them secure contributions from key activists in the field, meaning the book does not suffer from being overly theoretical or 'dry'... Patel and Siddique's chapter provides an essential documentation of their success in this legal challenge, which will be of interest to feminist activists, practitioners and academics internationally... Like so many of the other chapters, Gill and Mitra-Kahn manage to effectively synthesise theory, policy, practice and politics. The result is an excellent overview of the Force Marriage Civil Protection Act (2007) and debates around civil and criminal law approaches...Thiara and Gill state that they wish to link past discourses on "race", ethnicity and nationality, and violence against women, to make connections within theory and politics and to bring together a range of activists and researchers. They have certainly achieved this here. They challenge their readers to reflect on their location within social divisions and systems of oppression, whether they are influenced by the wider construction and representation of South Asian women and whether they contribute to the reinforcement of such representations and oppressions. More importantly, they ask how these representations and oppressions can be challenged. The collection contributes to this by providing clear analysis of the debates and theories concerning violence against South Asian women, assessing particularly the responses in legislation and policy, and the intersection of culture, 'race'. ethnicity and gender within these responses... Kelly describes the book as a "historic collection that documents, recognises and renews the contribution to the UK movement against violence against women by South Asian feminists; contributions made as researchers, as activists, as practitioners". In our opinion, this is an accurate description of Thiara and Gill's collection and we would class it as essential reading for all involved in the international movement against violence against women.

– Race & Class

Overall this book is excellent in this presentation and organisation. It is ideal for those wishing to enhance their knowledge on the issues affecting south Asian women and the multiple disadvantages they experience.

– Professional Social Work

This is a well written book that follows in a rich tradition of studying gender-based violence against women from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in the West... However, the strength of the book under review is that it offers a fresh look at the issue, moving beyond the issues of domestic violence and honour-related violence, addressing, in addition, issues often under-researched in this area, including: questions of masculinities, the concept of 'multiculturalism', child contact and post separation violence, the role of Shariah councils, and policy interventions including the domestic violence concession for immigrant women on a spousal visa. The book also provides a strong policy focus, in addition to offering a much needed theoretical base to understand these varied issues... The book concludes on a positive note, suggesting ways in which existing policy and practice could work together to protect South Asian women from violence by putting their needs first. This, I suggest, is one of the many strengths of this book - its ability to both analyse and to challenge existing structures of discrimination, inequality and gender-based violence. Other areas of strength are the ways in which South Asian women are never treated as a homogenous category or as passive victims, but, where possible, their agency and heterogeneity are acknowledged... Within the examination of structural inequalities, it also addresses the important issue of problems and gaps in existing policies, including policies on forced marriage and immigration and multiculturalism. In short, this book is a pleasure to read and will be an invaluable addition to the literature on ethnic minority communities and gender-based violence.

– British Journal of Social Work

This book is powerful, challenging and inspirational, and is an important contribution to debates on the complex intersections between ethnicity, gender and inequality, as well as on human rights and violence against women. Thiara and Gill and the contributors to this text skilfully unpick the flawed thinking and policy initiatives directed at gender-based violence over the past 30 years and especially in the post 9/11 period community cohesion and anti-terrorism initiatives.

– Dr Lorraine Radford, Head of Research, NSPCC

This is a stimulating and provocative collection which explores the difficult concepts of 'multiculturalism', 'ethnic identity' and 'secularisation' in relation to gendered violence. The authors challenge myths and stereotypes about the 'Asian' experience in relation to interpersonal violence without oversimplifying or homogenising black and minority ethnic (BME) women's experiences. Despite cataloguing the ongoing struggles against racism and misogyny, and the intersection of both, the editors conclude the text with optimism; an additional reason to recommend this text to all policy makers, practitioners, academics and students, as well as those interested in the provenance of BME anti-violence organisations and current UK policy.

– Dr Melanie McCarry, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol

Its sounds a bleak picture, but it is not, because the book is a testimony to the strength, solidarity and persistence of the resistance movement. It is a call for unity, it is a pledge and a promise that these contributor activists and their alliances with others will continue to challenge and contest the dominant narratives which shape and define the perception of South Asian women by the mainstream community in policy, politics and the law and bring justice to South Asian women victims of domestic violence.

– Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law

this text is very enlightening... Editors Thiara and Gil successfully provide the reader with a microscopic view of South Asian VAW, revealing the complex weaving soft is tapestry. Each of the articles poignantly weaves in and out micro-and macro-perspectives, such a UK policy and its perspective on immigration, and though seemingly well intentioned, in actuality it harms the women it attempts to protect. Their lens advances knowledge about this important topic and allows for those in academia, research, policy and the public, to grasp a better understanding of violence against South Asian women.

– The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice

A wide-ranging, timely and empirically informed analysis of the different forms of violence and human rights violations faced by women at the intersection of gender, ethnicity and class, and the shortcomings of existing legal and policy frameworks for dealing with them. It engages with important conceptual and political debates in the area and develops a sophisticated theoretical and political framework for addressing violence against women within multiculturalists policy and practice. In so doing, it problematises existing assumptions about the role of culture, and provides a much more nuanced intersectionality framework for dealing with this important issue in modern society. It will fill an important gap in the literature and should be widely read.

– Floya Anthias, Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Roehampton University

Ravi K Thiara is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Safety and Well-being at the University of Warwick, UK. Aisha K Gill is Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Social Sciences & Business at Roehampton University, UK.
Foreword. Professor Liz Kelly. Introduction. Ravi K Thiara, University of Warwick and Aisha K Gill, Roehampton University. Chapter 1. Understanding Violence against South Asian Women: What it Means for Practice. Ravi K Thiara and Aisha K Gill. Chapter 2. Charting South Asian Women's Struggles against Gender-based Violence. Amrit Wilson, University of Huddersfield and Royal Holloway College. Chapter 3. Masculinities and Violence against Women in South Asian Communities: Transnational Perspectives. Marzia Balzani, Roehampton University. Chapter 4. Shrinking Secular Spaces: Asian Women at the Intersect of Race, Religion and Gender. Pragna Patel and Hannana Siddiqui, Southall Black Sisters. Chapter 5. Moving Toward a 'Multiculturalism Without Culture': Constructing a Victim-Friendly Human Rights Approach to Forced Marriage in the UK. Aisha K Gill and Trishima Mitra-Kahn, Roehampton University. Chapter 6. Continuing Control: Child Contact and Post-separation Violence. Ravi K Thiara. Chapter 7. Shariah Councils and the Resolution of Matrimonial Disputes: Gender and Justice in the 'Shadow' of the Law. Samia Bano, University of Reading. Chapter 8. Protection for All? The Failures of the Domestic Violence Rule for (Im)migrant Women. Kaveri Sharma, London Metropolitan University and Aisha K Gill. Chapter 9. Conclusion: Looking to the Future. Aisha K Gill and Ravi K Thiara. List of Contributors. Index
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