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In Search of a Safe Place

In Search of a Safe Place: Abused Women and Culturally Sensitive Services

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    In Search of a Safe Place
    Book Description:

    Vijay Agnew documents the struggles of Canadian women's centres to provide better services to victims of wife abuse from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7605-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Research on racism within the women’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s has confirmed a widespread belief among racialized women (women who are labelled according to arbitrary racial or ethnic categories like ‘black’ or ‘Oriental’) that systemic and everyday racism within the movement (dominated by so-called white middle-class women) tended to marginalize them and issues of concern to them. Even so, some who remained on the fringes of the movement and did not become active participants in it have established community-based organizations through which they struggle against the racism, sexism, and classism experienced by themselves and by other women in...

  5. ONE Immigrant Communities in Canada
    (pp. 13-44)

    Nearly all Canadians are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, but this fact does not prevent differences of race and class from dividing Canadians into separate groups. Some immigrants have been welcomed to Canada enthusiastically, while others have expe rienced rejection and hostility. Some have become ‘Canadians’ in one generation; others remain outsiders – labelled as ‘immigrants.’

    Wife abuse occurs in all cultures and in all social classes, but the resources that are available to victims of abuse in Canada vary greatly across lines of culture and class. Although perpetrators of wife abuse exist in every racial and ethnic group and...

  6. TWO Wife Abuse
    (pp. 45-83)

    Violence against women is a significant area for feminist theory and activism. Feminists have exposed and documented forms of violence which until very recently remained largely unacknowledged – for example, wife abuse and date rapes. However, while feminists have increased public awareness of violence against women and have successfully lobbied for more stringent penalties for its perpetrators, questions have been raised about the extent of violence against women and even about the definition of violence (Sommers 1994; Roiphe 1993). Some, like the distinguished law professor Catherine MacKinnon, have defined violence as endemic to almost all sexual relations between men and...

  7. THREE Settlement Services and Community-based Organizations
    (pp. 84-114)

    Immigrants to Canada since the mid-1960s have increasingly been drawn from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean rather than Britain, the United States, or Europe (Samuel 1990). The 1967 immigration policy eliminated biases of race and nationality and encouraged professionals from all over the world to come to Canada, while other immigration policies targeted specific kinds of people; for example, domestic workers and entrepreneurs (Simmons 1990). There is therefore no stereotypical immigrant. Immigrants are found at both ends of the labour market; while some are professional people, others work for minimum wages at menial jobs (Boyd 1990). Immigrants from Asia, Africa,...

  8. FOUR Social Services and Advocacy by Community-based Groups
    (pp. 115-142)

    Groups of immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean have documented the racism, sexism, and classism encountered by them in Canadian society, in general, and in their relationships with the police, employers, and the women’s movement, in particular. Such documentation has forced white Canadians to acknowledge as myth the image of a non-racist Canada and has served the useful purpose of compelling government agencies to allocate some resources to racialized communities (Brown and Brown 1996, 49; Agnew 1996). Documentation of wife abuse in these communities is another means by which they overcome their victimization by race, class, and gender biases....

  9. FIVE Counsellors and Their Work
    (pp. 143-169)

    Although recent feminist theory acknowledges the integrated nature of race, class, and gender oppression, feminist practice often treats gender inequality as the primary causal factor in wife abuse. Gender inequality tends to be the primary concern of social workers, too, most of whom are white and middle-class (as are most Western feminists). In contrast, counsellors and social workers who are cognizant of how the racism and classism of the larger society limit the choices of abused women from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean tend to devote their writing to documenting experiences of racism and classism and to explaining their cultures...

  10. SIX Interviews with Counsellors
    (pp. 170-214)

    Counsellors at community-based groups and the women whom they help are frequently from the same ethnic background. As ‘cultural insiders,’ the counsellors have a familiarity with the culture and values of their ethnic or racial group that helps them to narrow the distance between themselves and their clients. This eliminates some of the problems that may arise when counsellor and client are from different cultural backgrounds. Common experiences of racism also create empathy between the women and help the counsellors to understand the sources of some of the difficulties that their clients are experiencing. However, differences between the counsellors and...

  11. SEVEN Counsellors and Women in Shelters
    (pp. 215-247)

    Women who have been abused by their spouses may be ambivalent about leaving their homes. Gender roles that give priority to being a wife and mother, and cultural norms that make it difficult for women to acknowledge abuse, trap abused women in oppressive homes (Greaves, Heapy, and Wylie 1988). Immigrant women often lack supportive family in Canada, are unable to speak English fluently, and have little or no ‘Canadian’ work experience. A non–English-speaking woman’s lack of knowledge about the existence of shelters keeps her living with the abuse until it escalates and threatens her or her children’s lives. However,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 248-254)

    Feminism includes a wide range of perspectives. Women like Christina Sommers (1994), Katie Roiphe (1993), Camille Paglia (1994), and Donna Laframboise (1996), who refer to themselves as ‘equity feminists’ or ‘dissident feminists,’ want to distance themselves from ‘gender feminists’ or ‘mainstream feminists’ like Catherine MacKinnon, Marilyn French, Gloria Steinem, and Naomi Wolf. They feel that mainstream feminism has become rigid and doctrinaire – ‘a bourgeois prison’ (Paglia 1994, ix) that stifles debate.

    Calls to reassess and re-evaluate the goals and directions of the feminist movement have also come from prominent spokeswomen in the mainstream. Naomi Wolf, for example, notes that...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 255-266)
  14. References
    (pp. 267-288)
  15. Index
    (pp. 289-305)