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  • African Immigrants
  • Volume 13 | Winter 2009

articles | Winter 2009

Understanding Cultural Perspectives on Domestic Violence in African Immigrant Communities

The dynamics of violent relationships take remarkably similar forms within many different countries, cultural contexts, and social spheres.  Lawyers and other advocates who work with domestic violence survivors must not ignore, however, the powerful role that culture can play in shaping a woman’s experience of domestic violence.  Each culture may have its own specific barriers created by family, society, and the legal system, which significantly impact a woman’s ability and willingness to leave an abusive relationship and seek protection under the law.  Understanding cultural perspectives on domestic violence means learning about the specific attitudes toward domestic violence within a client’s culture and within the legal system of that client’s home country.  Read more . . .

The African Victim’s Journey: Experiences of African Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence in the United States

Although little research has been conducted on the extent of domestic violence in the African immigrant population in the United States, data on the general immigrant population, combined with research on domestic violence within Africa, suggests that African women are likely to be abused by their spouses or partners in the United States at an alarming rate.  Africans constitute a growing proportion of the U.S. immigrant population, and immigrant women are especially vulnerable to domestic assault and less likely to be aware of the social and legal services available to assist them.  Many victims do not report abuse, and many are pressured by friends, family, and the African community to remain in their marriages if they do disclose the abuse.  For those women who report the abuse to law enforcement, obtain civil orders of protection, file criminal charges, seek assistance from government or community agencies, and attempt to achieve independence from their abusers, the journey to self-sufficiency is filled with overwhelming challenges and obstacles.  This article will describe common experiences of African women who pursue independence from victimization within the U.S. justice and social systems, and their particular service needs.  The case examples are those of members of the African Women’s Empowerment Group (AWEG) at the Montgomery County Abused Persons Program, who generously shared their thoughts and stories for this article. Read more . . .

Reflections of an African Lawyer on Domestic Violence

I am a lawyer in the East African country of Tanzania. Tanzania is among very few countries in the totality of the 54 in Africa to have had a peaceful co-existence of its citizens from independence in 1961. Because of its stability, Tanzania has been host to thousands of refugees from the neighboring countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and recently temporarily, Kenya. This may explain why, of all the countries featured in the two articles in this eNewsletter, Tanzania is not mentioned. Read more . . .