Reducing Domestic Violence in South Asian Communities – Daljit Gill Badesha & G.S. Thandi

drJaclIn the summer of 2009, the Centre for the Prevention and Reduction of Violence (CPRV) at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) located in New Westminster, began a study aimed at identifying effective strategies to intervene and reduce domestic violence in South Asian communities. 17 members of South Asian communities in Surrey, Abbotsford, Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby and Delta, who work as counselors, social workers, probation officers, police officers, activists and elders, were interviewed. The project is entitled “A Process of Discovery” as it explores a topic – focusing on domestic violence research regarding the South Asian male who has been violent – of which little is known. The research participants had worked directly with thousands of men and many of them had also worked with women and children from the same families. They all noted that while violence occurs in all communities, any interventions and prevention strategies with South Asian men must consider cultural and other factors in order to be most effective.

Project researcher Gary Thandi noted, “Anyone that works with these men, such as police and probation officers, social workers and counselors, need to better understand the man’s experiences of immigration, the influence of extended family, their views on gender and marriage, and how they view alcohol and substance use – while understanding each person’s experience is unique – in order to work with that man effectively. Only when the man feels respected and understood will he be willing to change his abusive attitude and behaviour.” He advised that the research participants all believed there was a need to educate other communities about our culture so that they could work effectively with the men.

He also pointed to the important role the community can play in violence prevention. “The research recognizes our community strengths in reducing violence, and looks at ways to harness that strength so we as a community can reduce future violence. Maybe years ago people didn’t want to talk about domestic violence, but times have changed. You look at our media, they’re doing a great job getting the message out about the damage that domestic violence does to families. And you look at the activists within our community, the people who are talking about it, and who are working with the men, the victims or the children. There are so many positive things being done, and we need to continue doing those.”

Thandi, a social worker and former probation officer, believes that changing the man’s behaviour will benefit members of his family too. “Given the interconnectedness of our families, if you make positive changes in one person, it will have a positive effect on the whole family – including extended family.”

Dr. Jack McGee, President of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, indicated “research through our Office of Applied Research intends to build on the experiences of frontline practitioners and to help translate practice into curriculum and program improvements. The knowledge gained through such research will ideally influence curriculum, programming, policy, and theory. Ultimately, we hope ‘A Process of Discovery’ will make a substantive contribution to the prevention and reduction of violence.”

For further information on the ongoing research project as well as other projects underway, you can visit the Justice Institute of British Columbia’s Applied Research Department Website at http://www.jibc.ca/appliedResearch/index.htm.