Presentation on theme: "MONGOLIAN AND AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S JOURNEYS OF SURVIVAL, RECOVERY AND REMAKING OF SELF THROUGH AND BEYOND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Presentation for the Women and."— Presentation transcript:
MONGOLIAN AND AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S JOURNEYS OF SURVIVAL, RECOVERY AND REMAKING OF SELF THROUGH AND BEYOND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Presentation for the Women and Psychology Conference Dec 2 nd, 2006 Marion Oke
Abstract My feminist, narrative research privileges women's voice. It comprises a cross-cultural narrative analysis of 11 Mongolian and 11 Australian womens stories of survival, recovery and remaking of self following domestic/intimate partner violence. I identified plots and themes of individual autobiographical narratives, around general themes of survival, recovery and remaking of self, with a major focus on narrative identity. Relevant canonical narratives, being general stories of lives arising from dominant discourses in a particular culture, were also identified. The research process was discursive and reflexive, with myself as researcher hearing, bearing witness to and reflecting on the womens stories. The women responded to their own stories, which were then shared among participants, allowing further reflection and response. There was some evidence that the Mongolian women may have moved further away from the violence and its effects than their Australian counterparts. The Mongolian women were undertaking their journeys of survival and recovery in a context of major societal crises, the aftermath of the collapse of the Socialist state and the Mongolian economy. Perhaps, even within this context, the cohesive nature of the Mongolian womens family support, particularly strong support from their mothers, strengthened their narrative identities, giving them resilience. In my presentation I outlined my research method and findings, including excerpts from the women's stories.
Philosophical approaches I constructed this research from feminist and narrative perspectives, informed theoretically by both 'radical' feminism from a structuralist position and 'poststructural' feminism. Radical feminism was instrumental in understanding violence against women as a gendered phenomenon. Through identifying shared characteristics about women's oppression it facilitates consciousness raising and action (Taylor, 2001; Walby, 1990). Poststructuralist feminist theory privileges individual experience, meaning and language (Davies, 1992; Olesen, 2000; Weedon, 1987).
Feminist qualitative research... is characterised by its complexity, its contextualising of the research, and the locating of the researcher within the research, including her relationship with the research participants. Typically, the researcher takes a reflexive position (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Gilligan, 1997; Olesen, 2000). Feminist research makes apparent and facilitates criticisms of mechanisms of power and domination, providing a context for political action. It is not just about women, it is for women (Gilligan, 1997; Harding, 1987; Olesen, 2000; Yllo, 1988). Feminist ethics in research are grounded in moral responses to everyday real life situations, particularly formerly neglected experiences of women such as domestic violence (Brison, 2002; Clifford, 2000; Gilligan, 1982).
Cross-cultural feminist research... is characterised by an intention to give voice to womens various oppressions within and between cultures (Morgan, 1984; Reinharz, 1992). US researcher Robin Morgan (1984), in feminist, cross-cultural research including responses by women from seventy countries, found the most basic similarity to be the sister in search of self. This resonates with my focus on narrative identity. My feminist, narrative, cross-cultural research specifically aimed to share the experiences of Mongolian and Australian women among the women directly involved in the research, as well as within the wider communities of women and beyond.
Narrative and research Narrative privileges feminist imperatives of hearing women's voice, making public what has been private, collectively addressing issues of oppression, power and agency and facilitating action; while honouring poststructuralist concerns of language and meaning. Narrative fulfills a moral, ethical and political need for a complex, contextualised research framework, enabling participants to have their voices heard with all their complexity and layers of meaning, (Brison, 2001; Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Gilligan, 1997; Oleson, 2000; White, 1995b). A narrative approach to research is underpinned by the understanding that... people live, make sense of their lives and give organisation to their experiences through socially constructed narrative realities (Flaskas, 2002, p. 36). Life-narrative is a conscious retrospective construction and telling of ones life story, involving a personal and relational meaning making process, integral to how we understand ourselves and our lives. (Kotre, 1984; Kirkman, 1997; White 1995b). People tend to give their experiences in story form unless prevented from doing so (Polkinghorne, 1995).
Narrative Analysis Two types have been identified Polkinghorne (1995): –i) Analysis of narrative locates common themes among stories collected as data, which are then categorised according to the conceptual paradigm of best fit, into a collection of particular instances of the derived categories. –ii) Narrative analysis of eventful data, whereby the raw data are not necessarily in storied form, they are descriptions of events or happenings which are composed into a story with a plot, temporal development, culminating in the denouement. My research encompasses aspects of both, I analysed the narratives as I drew together themes and stories into a meta-narrative.
Narrative encompasses the emotional: research as therapy As both a research and a therapeutic endeavour, narrative engenders an empathic, emotional, potentially therapeutic response (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). Narrative comes from an ethical and theoretical position of privileging peoples lived experiences and storied lives, acknowledging the researcher/therapists role as co-author of the person's life-narrative (Bird, 2000; Morgan, 2001; White, 1995a; White, 1995b).
Narrative has a purpose. Narrative has moved social research from a purpose of description or prediction to one of communication, empathy and empowerment, inviting an interactional, emotional response from the reader (Brison, 2002). Through the facilitation of an empathic response, narrative generates an understanding of shared experiences or truths, enabling individuals to draw together different threads of personal experiences into a more universal meaning which resonates an empathic truth (Zable, 2002).
The narrative relational self or narrative identity... cuts across the dichotomous polarity of the autonomous self versus the self as part of a system. The narrative metaphor represents a fluid self, privileging lived experience and meaning, existing within, formed and transformed by relational, cultural and historical contexts. It involves a temporal dimension, with a thread of meaning making a connection over time, giving a sense of continuity (Bird, 2000; Brison, 2002; Flaskas, 1999; Kirkman, 1997; Ricoeur, 1992; White, 1991.) The study of narrative identity evolving through trauma is the main consideration of my research. As the persons narrative identity is the character as shaped by the dominant story recounted to the self and/or others, loss of identity involves loss of a sense of sameness and thread of meaning supporting an on-going sense of self (Ricoeur, 1992). A new plot or meaning is thus needed to connect and incorporate the changed self (Brison, 2002). The journey or 'migration of identity' (White, 1995a) involved in achieving this is the plot or meaning of my research. Narrative provides a sense of continuity or integrity of identity. Story telling, the relational connection to the listener, reflection and meaning making, all contribute to the role of narrative in putting back together a self or identity fragmented by trauma. I was particularly interested in what it means, in the context of the traumatic effects of domestic violence, to lose and then regain a sense of cohesive self or identity, and the role of narrative in this process.
Undertaking the narrative research From the Mongolian and Australian interview transcripts I compiled a set of narratives which became the data for my research, from which I drew my narrative explanations. My research encompasses participants' experiences, reflections and explanations, as well as my own reflections and understandings through differing theoretical lenses. I connect with the narrative in other theoretical ideas (Byng-Hall, 2001), for example trauma theory and the humanist approach, which, like narrative, privilege an empathic relational connection in the context of hearing the other's story.
The research participants... comprised eleven Mongolian and eleven Australian women, found through their links with support agencies or personal recommendation. All participants had experienced domestic/intimate violence as adults. The Mongolian womens ages ranged from 23 to 47 years, the Australians from 30 to 47. All of the Mongolians were ethnic Mongolian. Reflecting the wider Australian community, the Australian women were from a range of ethnic backgrounds including Anglo-Celtic (five), Indigenous Australian, Italian, Dutch, Maltese, Indian and African (one of each). One each of the Mongolian and Australian women identified as lesbian, the remainder as heterosexual. They lived in a range of household situations, the Mongolian women were more likely to be with extended family and less likely to be alone than the Australians.
The research process I interviewed each woman three times over a period of approximately two years. From the interview transcripts I compiled a book of the women's stories, a copy of which was given to each woman. Each woman was given the opportunity to reflect on hearing her own story read out loud, and on reading all the women's stories. I carried out a narrative analysis of the women's stories with a main focus on narrative identity, and constructed a meta-narrative from the individual stories, which became the basis for my thesis.
Identified common themes or story-lines: chapters of the thesis Womens stories of childhood, adolescence and early adulthood: the naive self Violation and survival: the divided self and the lost thread of meaning Breaking down and breaking through: the lost self and the finding of new meanings, the beginnings of recovery Reconnecting in the context of family, friends and acquaintances Legal issues: womens encounters with the criminal justice system and the family law court Womens interactions with medical and helping professionals Women connecting and journeys of narrative identity within group contexts Reconnecting with the self through reading, writing and inner, spiritual and philosophical practices and ideas Commonality and narrative identity in the context of study, work, travel and relationships Narrative identity, reflections and plots.
Denouements of the women's narratives, narrative identity and recovery of self Narrative identities forged and shaped through the struggle to move away the violence and its effects: strength and vulnerability. Both Mongolian and Australian women told of gaining life purpose through their experiences, of strength emerging through the pain and struggle of the journey. Themes that stood out were gaining independence and an autonomous sense of self and the development of empathy and a sense of purpose through helping others. Power and agency, arising through and enabling the women's journeys of survival and recovery of self through and beyond domestic violence, were crucial aspects of the women's strengthened narrative identities. Each Mongolian and Australian woman's narrative identity, including her autonomous self, self as part of a system, embodied self and relational self, was strengthened; this strengthened narrative identity also encompassed vulnerabilities.
Narrative Identities Forged Through The Struggle Jessica: It was a fantastic feeling, I didnt have anybody standing over me telling me what to do, telling me what to wear... I could go anywhere I wanted to go and I was living in peace. I didnt have anybody hurting me and it was a really uplifting, liberating feeling, like this new lease on life that Id never known before... even though I was still suffering at the time and still crying... Ive always respected myself, but I really respect myself now. Its a matter of knowing what you deserve as a human being... Identity, thats what I was looking for, Ive found me. Ill never let anyone take away my identity again... I had to be someone else for somebody and Im not going to do that again. I am me, I will do the things I want to do, I will be the kind of person I want to be and no man or nobody will ever take that away from me again.
Narrative Identities Forged Through The Struggle Monika: I was dancing, singing, I was happier than Ive ever been in my life. I had nothing but I had everything... it was just such a relief to be out... It made me what I am, its certainly done that... like youre being pushed beyond normal limits in lots of ways, its hard to experience that. These painful experiences I see as growth... and we do grow through pain, it forces us to look at who we are, and why this is happening to us. Ive had a lot of friends, some of them have had very mundane boring lives, and theyre absolutely flabbergasted to listen to my life.... Im using the wounds and the scars of those wounds and using other things, like the love that comes into your life is one of the balms to allow that healing, that transformation... its a bit like a key in a sense that opens up your perception, widens the way you feel and perceive about life in general.
Narrative Identities Forged Through The Struggle Enkhee: Now Im always on the observing side of things when Im mixing with people, although before being married I was spoilt and outgoing and funny. Now Im very careful, not very outgoing, but the self-esteem that had really deteriorated during those years of fear has been rebuilt. The two main things that have helped have been working with people, and the second to open up whatever Im thinking inside and feeling inside to people. One thing that I regret is the wasted time... five years of marriage to that man and its too late to repeal those years.... Because Ive seen life and its bad side even my outlook will be different to those people who havent seen that side of life. Its like those people would be... making superficial judgments... without going into the in-depth reasons for things. Im different from them because Im digging in... and trying to get to the deeper sides... And Im always trying to help people out, so if theres domestic violence happening Im always trying to see what I can do; its not my business but Ive been through that myself. Naraa: I changed a lot back then, I now believe that Im only myself responsible for myself... I have to decide my life... Having to experience all these things has made me strong.
'Happily ever after canonical life-narratives of marriage and relationships were replaced by feminist understandings Monika: I feel like my whole life has been this war against women. I feel that men have got a real problem with women... you look at films on TV, they havent got a healthy perception of what women should be; sexual objects, women are there for mens use. A lot of its power. Part of its also the fact that they dont respect them and they dont understand them. I think men are afraid of women, because of the biology of a womans body, I think this really deep, inner fear that men have falls back to the fact that a womans body can produce children. Jessica: Any man I hear being the slightest little bit chauvinist, I back right off. They may be only joking, but I think to myself... I wouldnt want to be with anyone like that, theres no respect. Were not second-class citizens, or mere females as I used to get called all the time. Were human beings just like men and we deserve the same respect.... Ive learned a lot, Im very careful now with men. Women or anybody do not deserve to be put down in any way, or physically abused in any way. Woman are not the property of men, some men need a damn good lesson in how to treat women.
'Happily ever after canonical life-narratives of marriage and relationships were replaced by feminist understandings Uran: Before this experience I was just... a traditional woman, listening to my husband, taking care of and giving all my energy just to my family and too much attention just to my house cleaning. After that I discovered that for a woman, of course family is important, and of course children are very important, and at the same time it's important to recover herself as a woman and as a human being, as a professional, and as an active member of society. Uran also reflected on gender issues in the context of the collapse of the Socialist system: I think men and women reacted differently. I think women are more responsible for family and for taking care of old people and children. But men are... less mature, especially in marriage, for example my husband and myself, men are kind of more like little boys... women did not want any more to be just as house-keeper, or just helper to men, women are more eager to take part in decision making. This is I think, the benefit from democracy.
The Narrative, Feminist Research Approach Participants were invited to tell stories with a dominant plot of survival and recovery. If I had asked them for example, to tell stories of victimisation or motherhood, the narratives would almost certainly have had different plots and conceptions of selves. Particularly empowering and in some cases therapeutic for participants, was telling their stories, hearing them read and having the opportunity to reflect on them. Natalia: Shes a nice person, Id like to get to know her... I should be proud of myself. Bernadette: Its... like I could have been listening to someone elses story. But hearing it read back, I see how far Ive come.
The Narrative, Feminist Research Approach Saraa: Reliving all these experiences... it makes me feel how much difficulty I could overcome. Enkhee: Ive actually made a conclusion of my old life. I have analysed it all with you two, the three of us (the participant, myself and the translator) have gone through it all. Following is part of Anita's response to reading all the stories: I read the women's stories while I was on holidays and boy oh boy what what an effect it had on me. One of the common themes I found both within the two cultures and between them was that education plays such a huge part in empowering women. That exposure armed women with strength, courage, encouragement, options, challenged their points of view and filled them with determination. What an amazing transformation for the women... I got so much out of reading the women's stories – reminders of where I had been and how far I had come, areas where I still need to focus my attention, fears I still have, but also... how much I want to find a partner now.
Conclusions Similarities stood out above differences. Commonalities and parallels between the Mongolian and the Australian womens narratives are evident in every aspect of their journeys of survival and recovery. All the Mongolian and Australian women's experiences of violence were emotional and embodied, taking place in patriarchal cultural contexts. Recovery involved reconnecting within themselves and with others and rejecting old patriarchal beliefs. Most women initially idealised relationships and marriage, this being supported by Mongolian and Australian societal and familial canonical life- narratives. Most also experienced an early violence-free time in the marriage or relationship. The women lost their narrative identity or sense of continuity of self to overwhelming embodied, emotional experiences such as anxiety, depression, confusion and self-blame. Several women also experienced a dissociated state, a sense of doubleness or of leaving the self. Experiences, such as denial and dissociation, while initially representing coping strategies in the face of overwhelming emotional pain or threat of annihilation, inhibited recovery of self.
Conclusions Most women experienced breaking down and breaking through'; new strength to begin the journey away from the violence arising in the context of overwhelming desperation, loss of hope and loss of self. These turning points were often in the context of imminent loss of life, from being killed or from desperation leading to suicide. A reconnecting period with others and within themselves was part of the womens recovery of self, when they sought support from family, friends and services such as counselling and support groups. All the Australians and a number of the Mongolian women undertook professional individual and/or group support. The Mongolian women who did not receive counselling made successful recoveries of self in the context of support from family and friends.
Family responses in Mongolian and Australian contexts The Mongolian womens reflective narrative identities tended to have moved further away from the aftermath of the violence than the Australians'. This may be due to the benefits of strong family support. The Mongolian families tended to operate as a unit, hearing the womans story, confronting the perpetrator and taking action to make her safe. Several Mongolian womens mothers and a grandmother took strong supportive positions and action in regard to the violence. While some Australian women received family support, none of their families or mothers acted with the strength of the Mongolians'.
Mongolian family responses Naraa: Several members of my family and his family came together to see my husband, they all said Just go away and he left... everybody knew of the apartment being destroyed; he didnt have any right to come back. There was no need for the police. Suvdaa: When I decided to leave I called... my sister and brothers, and asked them to come to my place... I told them about every time I was beaten, some of the stories they already knew. I said I couldnt resist any more, so I took the two children with me and went to my sisters house. Saraa: I... asked my relatives to come over, and for my husband to face all these people. I told him: You have spent all my money, you have to pay me what you owe me, otherwise I will call the police.
Australian family responses Frances: My Mum, my sisters and my cousins came and helped me move.... I said Quick, come and help me, Im going to bolt, just get my things and lets go. Bernadette: I rang up Mum, I said... 'I want to leave John. Mum said, OK, come around tonight and well talk about it. So I went around to Mum and Dads that night and I never went back. Mum and Dad were very supportive after they heard what Id been going through and how I felt.
Mongolian women's reflections about their mothers Ariunaa: Now we are together with my parents. It was very, very terrible before I left, but now I feel a little bit better... because my mother supports me. She supports me mentally, she supports me economically and everything. Enkhee: During the wedding days he got angry, he was screaming about any one small thing, and my grand-mother said, If this is the way your life is going to be, its going to be very, very difficult. The wedding celebration went over several days... on the evening of the third day my grandmother said, Lets go, lets just leave, you cant go on forever like this. So my grandmother and I left for Ulaanbaatar; I left him after three days. When Enkhee decided to return to her husband, her grandmother responded: OK, its your business, but just remember, its not one-time temper. Gerel: My mother helped me to leave... she said: You dont have to stay with him, and her saying that encouraged me... Mostly I did it myself with my mother... Even my brothers and sisters didnt all agree when I divorced, some of them asked that we get together again, but my mother said No, no. Amaraa's mother advised: Your sons life is important for you now. Because of this you must try for yourself, you must start now to have a new life, you must go out, have time with friends. Theres not just one man in the world, you can meet a better man, husband.
Australian women's reflections about their mothers Shona: My mum... always encouraged me to stay, but I think it was because she was a single parent, and she didnt want my children to be raised with a single parent.... but when I left she was very supportive because she trusted my judgment... she gave me the space to work things out for myself. Jane: I thought my mother would understand, but Mum hasnt got any idea. Mum was abused by my father, but she was so different. Joan: When I tried to tell her I was leaving... She started saying, I disagree, its gone too far. I said, Do you want me to stay when he keeps hitting me and hes ruining the children? She didnt want to face up to anything... But once she saw the destruction, once she faced the reality that I was losing my son, her first grandson, that impacted on her.
Women's accounts of counselling Most of the women who had counselling found it helpful, an empathic connection with the counsellor being considered particularly important. However, two Australian women found couples counselling very unhelpful because the counsellor did not address the address the issues of power and violence; one Australian and two Mongolian women found counselling did not give them what they needed. Joan, Australian survivor and support worker: Thats been a gift, when you get treated with such respect and theres such clarity on the issues without being minimised, without being judged, then its easy to carry on... It influenced the whole way I live. Jessica: Because I told her I was lying on the bed all day and crying, the counsellor encouraged me to try to motivate myself. I said,... Im so depressed, I dont want to do anything. She said, Make yourself do one thing every day and write it in a diary, say tomorrow this is what Im going to do... It was still an effort to get up... to have a shower and get ready... But... Id tick it all off as Id done it, it was a real sense of achievement... the counsellor called it baby steps. Shona: The counsellor would get in and examine you under a microscope and know exactly what works for you... you learn different ways of relating, and about taking individual responsibility for your actions.
Women's accounts of counselling Gerel, Mongolian survivor and support worker: I think its necessary to first ask these women where to find support... Just ask her, With whom do you want to talk?... If shes not sure whether to leave... propose to the family to support her, and ask who she wants to keep this close... supporting relationship (with), ask if she needs anything... Maybe theres some relatives who have money, an uncle maybe, he can help her through this difficult time, maybe go to him with her. Just talk with her about it. If she hasnt any power, if she cant say it, ask about how to solve the problem... The women need to have understanding and support... just talk with her, thats one way, but we need to go another way too, encourage her. Enkhee: There was a time when I didnt know whether to stay with him or to separate... they advised me to put the positive and negative things together about my life with my husband, that was very helpful. They used to say, Were not here to tell you what to do, its your decision, its up to you... I needed help for the decision, I needed the moral support... I couldnt do it alone.
Participating in a women's support group All accounts of support group participation were positive Australian women's accounts Bernadette: It made me realise who I am... and that Im not the only person... I thought I was the only one in the world that it had happened to... seeing the counsellor and the womens group... made me a strong person, able to deal with my every-day life. Anita: I never cried in therapy with any therapist. I couldnt cry, there was just nothing there, I was like dead inside... When I came to the womens group I sat in that room and straight away all I wanted to do was cry, it was like I knew this was the right place. One woman described her situation, she said she felt like if you filled a bucket up with water, its filled right to the top, and one more drop finally makes it start to trickle over... I thought, That is exactly it; and then I just howled and howled. The group leader talked about all this male domination, all this power, all this patriarchy... I felt that she finished my sentences for me, I knew that she knew. For the first time I didnt have to prove anything... just what I said was enough... I looked around,... there were some very wealthy women, and me, Im just on a sole parents pension and there were other women that were in between... I could tell that some were educated and some werent. I thought, Here I am sitting amongst all these intelligent women... I always thought you have to be stupid to be in that sort of situation; it was like I could just be me.
Participating in a women's support group Mongolian women's accounts Suvdaa: Each week on Friday... I didnt tell my colleagues I was going to the support group, I gave a different reason for leaving early. I was always in a hurry because I liked being in the group... I could understand that Im not the only person who experienced this problem, we could support each other rather than just talk about our negative things. At the end of each session there was a time for evaluation of each other, we were told to talk about the best qualities and features everyone had. All these good words made me feel very good, because everyone was telling me You can manage your life, you can do good things, you can change your life, you can take care of your children, you are pretty, very kind.' It was very good to hear these good things about myself, it boosted my self-esteem, but after the session I would think Is that really true? Later I would think badly of myself because that was the lowest self-esteem point.
Participating in a women's support group Mongolian women's accounts Tsetseg: When I got into the support group, the facilitator... gave us examples of how we have to climb these mountains. I was involved in the support group for about one year... it was very difficult to talk to anyone outside the group about it, so I could talk to the women in the support group, I could talk about my inside feelings. Chimeg: If I had bad feelings for the whole week, Friday I could meet and talk about my feelings to the other women... I was involved in the support group for four years, eight or ten women were usually involved in the group, most of them for two years. I got to know these women very well.
Summary of the research My feminist, narrative research privileges women's voice. It comprises a cross-cultural narrative analysis of 11 Mongolian and 11 Australian womens stories of survival, recovery and remaking of self following domestic/intimate partner violence. I identified plots and themes of individual autobiographical narratives, around general themes of survival, recovery and remaking of self, with a major focus on narrative identity. Relevant canonical narratives, being general stories of lives arising from dominant discourses in a particular culture, were also identified. The research process was discursive and reflexive, with myself as researcher hearing, bearing witness to and reflecting on the womens stories. The women responded to their own stories, which were then shared among participants, allowing further reflection and response. There was some evidence that the Mongolian women may have moved further away from the violence and its effects than their Australian counterparts. The Mongolian women were undertaking their journeys of survival and recovery in a context of major societal crises, the aftermath of the collapse of the Socialist state and the Mongolian economy. Perhaps, even within this context, the cohesive nature of the Mongolian womens family support, particularly strong support from their mothers, strengthened their narrative identities, giving them resilience.
Rationale for the research Domestic/intimate partner violence is a serious world-wide problem with very high prevalence levels (United Nations, 1996). It is responsible for wide-spread serious physical and emotional health problems among survivors and thousands of women world-wide die annually at the hands of intimate partners (Mongolian Centre Against Violence (CAV), 1995; Great State Hural of Mongolia, 2004; Nguyen, 2004; Ramonet, 2004; Taylor, 1999; Vandenberg, 1998; van der Gaag, 2004; VicHealth, 2004; WHO, 2002). There is a need for public awareness raising of the domestic violence issue, particularly for the voices of survivors to be heard, as collective silencing maintains the patriarchy and prevents effective action being taken (Gilligan, 1997; Herman, 1992; Taylor, 2004a). In order to better understand the complexities of the issue in a global context, there is a need for cross-cultural research (Fontes, 1998; Herman, 1992; Levinson, 1988). My research documents the voices of women from an affluent Western culture, Australia, and a culture struggling with recent social and economic turmoil, Mongolia, emphasising survival, recovery and remaking of self as aspects of narrative identity.
Contextualising the research, cultural/historical contexts Mongolia is a Central Asian culture with a nomadic life-style and history extending back into antiquity (Burn & Oidov 2001; Greenway et al., 1997; Waugh, 2003). Traditional animist beliefs survive; Buddhism, the dominant religion, dates back to the 12th century. A 200 year Buddhist theocracy was imposed by the Northern Chinese Manchurian regime in the early 18th century, after which the revolution in 1921 ushered in a Soviet influenced Socialist regime, in place until 1990; during this time religion was largely suppressed. Russian cultural influence is strong in Mongolia, during the Socialist era many Mongolians were educated in the Soviet Union. Since 1990 a resurgence of nationalism has been taking place, particularly a cultural reverence of the legendary Chinggis Khan (Burn and Oidov, 2001; Greenway et al., 1997; Storey 1993; Waugh, 2003).
Contextualising the research, cultural/historical contexts Australia. White Australia has only existed since the late 18th century, when British invasion/settlement largely replaced more than 40,000 years of Indigenous settlement (Trudgen, 2000). There is little narrative thread connecting the pre-white settlement Indigenous culture with that of the European settlers. Two hundred and twenty years of migration has peopled Australia with individuals from widely dispersed parts of the world, creating a complex cultural tapestry, overshadowed by the values and practices of a Western, individualistic, capitalist system. Christianity is the dominant religion, although secularity is widely valued. Roman Catholic Christianity has a larger following than Protestant churches (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996).
Contextualising the research, cultural/historical contexts Similarities. Mongolia and Australia both occupy large land masses and have relatively small populations (approximately 2.5 and 19 million respectively), which are highly urbanised. Both are presently part of the global world capitalist market economy, with a history of being economic, political and cultural satellites; Mongolia of the Soviet Union, Australia of Britain and the US. Both countries have some history of improving womens rights. Australia was the second country after New Zealand to grant the vote to women in 1902. Equal rights for women was written into the Mongolian constitution in 1921 (Burn & Oidov, 2001; Centre Against Violence (CAV), 1995). Socialist Mongolia attained for women a better educational level than men, as well as equal participation in the workforce and a minimum of 20 per cent female representation in parliament which was often exceeded (Burn & Oidov, 2001).
Contextualising the research, cultural/historical contexts Similarities. In both countries recent economic rationalist policies have seen less equal distribution of wealth, increasing poverty and unemployment, substantial cut-backs in funding to health, welfare and social services and increased privatisation of services; the changes in Mongolia being more extreme than in Australia. In both cases these changes have disproportionately disadvantaged women (Burn & Oidov, 2001; Summers, 2003). Both cultures have a strong emphasis on outdoor living and alcohol drinking. Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and Melbourne in Australia are perhaps the only two cities in the world to have a public holiday and wide-spread celebration in honour of a horse race.
Patriarchy and domestic violence in Mongolia and Australia Mongolia and Australia report similar levels of domestic violence. Both cultures are male dominated (Burn & Oidov, 2001; Summers, 2003), sexually liberated, with a high divorce rate and an increasing number of single, usually female, parent families, which constitute a large number of those living below the poverty level. Many divorces and separations result from domestic violence (Burn & Oidov, 2001; Family Violence Professional Education Taskforce, 1994; CAV, 1995; VicHealth, 2004). Both countries have a history of patriarchya power imbalance which renders women vulnerable to acts of violence (Vandenberg, 1998). The ideology of patriarchy continues to be reinforced in the Australian context by the dominant male discourse of 'mateship', men supporting each other against adversity in a hearty way which tends to discourage expression of emotion and includes copious alcohol drinking as part of its culture (White, 1986).
Patriarchy and domestic violence in Mongolia and Australia Patriarchy is embedded in Mongolian tradition; the household head is presumed to be the man (B. Natsagmaa, D. Badamtsetseg, S. Baasanbat & Sh. Ankhmaa, 2004). In Socialist Mongolia equality for women was a stated ideal, to some extent achieved, particularly in the spheres of education and work. However, in the private sphere of the home, the man was still considered head of the household, most domestic work was done by women and domestic violence continued to occur with little public acknowledgment (Burn & Oidov, 2001; CAV, 1995). Since the advent of Capitalism and multi-party Democracy, women's power in the public sphere has deteriorated (Avery, 1996; B. Natsagmaa et al., 2004; Burn & Oidov, 2001; Watson, 1997) The contradictions of Socialism were exchanged for Western contradictions (Watson, 1997).
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