Growing concern over violence against Immigrant women in Victoria and throughout BC
BWSS, Battered Women’s Support Services, travels to Victoria BC to provide training for front line workers in settlement, women’s, immigration, and victim service sectors.
The Oak Bay murder suicide is one of many recent examples of violence against Immigrant women in BC. The level of violence against Immigrant women is a vast concern for woman’s organizations and all community sectors that work with Immigrant women.
However, Angela Marie MacDougall Executive Director of BWSS states
“In these recent highly publicized cases of murders of Immigrant women there has been a high level law enforcement involvement and little to no involvement of women’s or community organizations.”
MacDougall believes that a partnership between all service providers and law enforcement is essential to ensuring women’s safety.
BWSS has seen a trend of violence against Immigrant women, in terms of woman accessing their services. In January 2010, 368 women accessed services at Battered Women’s Support Services. Services included; victim services, support groups, legal advocacy, employment program and counselling, and over 500 women called their crisis line. Of the 368, 52% were of immigration, refugee, or non status. Vancouver is the second largest in Canada with a high percentage of people of colour and Immigrant populations. In 2006, 51.0% of Vancouver’s total population identified as immigrant an increase from 49.0% in 2001 and 44.8% in 1996 (The City of Vancouver website). This overwhelming trend of violence against Immigrant women is a growing concern for BWSS and service organizations across the province.
BWSS believes that providing training for settlement workers is the essential step to stopping the violence. As Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager of Direct Services and Programs points out
“Settlement workers are often the first point of contact for Immigrant women who are experiencing violence therefore they play a key role in ensuring women’s safety”
Non-status, Refugee and Immigrant women are navigating barriers and are disempowered in the following ways:
- through a lack of economic independence,
- interfacing with service providers that are often ill prepared to deal with both the violence and their immigration experience,
- attitudinal and behavioral discrimination in the community both mainstream and Immigrant and
- navigating gaps in laws and policies that govern their lives (Maria Rosa Pinedo & Ana Maria Santinoli, 1991 Education Wife Assault)
Battered Women’s Support Services has found that a critical and essential task facing service providers is to facilitate the process of reclamation of power denied to assaulted Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant women in the Canadian society. BWSS is eager to be in Victoria and to be contributing towards ending violence against women by having these important conversations with front line immigration workers as this partnership is vital to ensuring women’s lives.
Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director 604-808-0507
Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager of Direct Services 604-687-1868 Ext 314
Download our overview of the Canadian Immigration System