South Asian Men’s Perspectives Regarding Domestic Violence in their Communities

  • Author / Creator
    Bajwa, Jasmine
  • South Asians are the largest visible minority group in Canada, with a strong representation in Alberta’s major metropolitan centres. They have immigrated to Canada from countries with some of the most oppressive gender regimes in the world, with limited laws, policies, and police/justice system intervention related to domestic violence, leading to high rates of reported victimization in both their source countries and after immigration to North America. Existing studies on domestic violence among the South Asian community after immigration have focused primarily on female victims, while neglecting male perspectives, even though males hold the power and privilege in this collectivist culture, and available statistics identify males as the most frequent perpetrators. The purpose of this qualitative doctoral dissertation study was to bridge this research gap by investigating how South Asian men residing in Alberta, Canada define domestic violence, the factors they believe contribute to violence against women, their proposed solutions, and how they see their own roles in addressing this social problem.
    Seventeen South Asian men ranging in age from 24 to 74, of various countries of origin, religious backgrounds, tenure in the host society, employment status, and community roles were recruited through a combination of: (a) outreach at community events or cultural celebrations; (b) distribution of study advertisements in immigration/settlement agencies, religious centres, and community associations; and (c) snowball sampling across Alberta’s two large cities: Calgary and Edmonton. The men participated in mini-focus groups consisting of 3 to 6 members who shared some similar characteristics (such as being in service delivery or community leadership roles or being recent immigrants versus having lived in Canada for a lengthy period). In these focus groups, the South Asian men were asked about their perceptions and exemplars of what makes a “good marriage” and a “bad marriage”, and what kinds of behaviours towards wives they consider or define as abusive or as representing domestic violence, if any. They were also asked about the factors, circumstances or events that contribute to wife abuse in their communities, and what specifically can be done to stop or address domestic violence, including any role they see for themselves in this process. At the conclusion of each focus group, the researcher initiated an educational debriefing intervention, providing participants with information about how domestic violence is defined and addressed in Canadian laws and the justice system, as well as information about local resources for dealing with marital tensions and abuse for both community victims and perpetrators. Focus group data was transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six phase process of thematic analysis.
    The South Asian men in the study identified physical violence (beating, breaking property, and killing), emotional violence (insults, humiliation, psychological torture through threats of male infidelity), financial violence (hostage-taking in terms of taking away any financial means from wives), manipulating the law (to frame women as perpetrators of crimes as opposed to victims), and sexual abuse (“servicing various men in the family”) as forms of domestic violence that represent their community’s “shameful secret”. Their view of primary contributing factors included the “I am King” entitlement mindset passed down through their cultural socialization process, certain cultural practices that promote a male preference or make women vulnerable (like celebrating the birth of sons as opposed to daughters), ignorance about Canadian laws and policies related to abuse, and relational and life stress associated with immigration. Some of their proposed solutions included: (a) changing mentalities among their community members by positive male role modelling through their own family lives and male-to-male accountability for respectful behaviour towards women and girls, which actually began in the transformative dialogues that occurred during the focus group process; (b) religious leaders facilitating open dialogue about abuse; (c) going back to the cultural basics of practices like arranged marriage by refraining from accepting or requesting dowries; and (d) considering interventions for marital tensions and acculturation stress-related domestic violence, such as restorative justice interventions that keep families together rather than break family ties. The men’s unique contributions to understanding and responding to domestic violence among members of their communities have important implications for domestic violence prevention and intervention, which are discussed in this dissertation.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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