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Attitudes of Muslim Men Towards Domestic Violence Against Women and Children Presented to the Third International Conference on Children Exposed to.

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Presentation on theme: "Attitudes of Muslim Men Towards Domestic Violence Against Women and Children Presented to the Third International Conference on Children Exposed to."— Presentation transcript:

1 Attitudes of Muslim Men Towards Domestic Violence Against Women and Children Presented to the Third International Conference on Children Exposed to Domestic Violence May 9-11, 2007, London Ontario Canada Mohammed Baobaid Research Scientist Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children, University of Western Ontario

2 Objective of the Study understanding how Muslim men define and perceive violence against both women and children exploring attitudes towards anti-violence agencies and their work exploring attitudes about women accessing anti-violence agencies Understanding how Muslim men define domestic violence and abuse is important – we need to listen to how men view and give meaning to domestic violence will help in the development of appropriate prevention and intervention approaches. It is also important to allow men to express their opinions and then engage them. This study provides insight into not only perceptions and meanings of violence, but also into how gender identities and gender relations are constructed and practiced. As we know, masculinity is constructed and these identities emerge from the interplay of values and practices as they develop within specific social contexts. *At this point, I also want to make note of the fact that neither Mohammed nor I are suggesting that there is such a thing as a homogenous attitude of Muslim men towards domestic violence – it is clear that there are a diversity of Muslim male identities and a spectrum of definitions of domestic violence – as in other community. However, there are prevailing dominant attitudes and norms.

3 Methodology This study gathered information from Muslim men using two methodologies: questionnaire/survey in depth one on one interviews (which were taped) 51 Muslim men from different national and cultural backgrounds participated in the survey/questionnaire 25 Muslim men participated in the in-depth interview

4 Questionnaire: collected demographic information
asked participants to respond to different items of abusive behaviours by checking off either: never, sometimes, often, always these items were created using the Duluth Power and Control Wheel The Duluth Power and Control Wheel is used quite a lot in Canada and the United States to educate men on what constitutes abuse: forms of abuse include emotional abuse, economic/financial abuse, physical abuse, using coercion and threats, using isolation, using male privilege, using children, and minimizing, denying and blaming

5 Examples From the Questionnaire
Emotional Abuse Behaviour: Criticizing the way a wife raises the children Questioning a wife about where she was/who she was with or what she was doing Interfering with wife going to work/school

6 In-depth interview allowed for deeper more personal discussions, participants talked about: their personal experiences of immigration and settlement in Canada; their challenges and stresses how they give meaning to family relationships, gender relations, and gender identities their definitions of domestic violence their views towards anti-violence agencies and Muslim women accessing these services for support

7 Findings (Questionnaire):
the questionnaire/survey revealed a tolerance for forms of financial abuse, isolation, and some forms of emotional abuse for instance: 66% of respondents felt that it was acceptable to hold one’s wife accountable for how she spent money 79% of respondents also indicated that they made financial decisions without consulting their spouse

8 Findings (Questionnaire): continued:
with respect to emotional abuse /isolation a majority of respondents felt it was: acceptable to criticize the way one’s wife raises the children (79%) acceptable to hold a wife accountable for her whereabouts (78%) acceptable to demand that a wife ask permission to go out (60 %)

9 Findings (Questionnaire): continued:
Participants revealed low tolerances for physical abuse (hitting, biting, kicking, spitting etc.) Participants also revealed low tolerance for emotionally abusive behaviours such as embarrassing one’s wife in front of others, insulting their spouses family Using threats of divorce, sending a wife back home, or taking children away also registered low acceptance levels

10 Findings (in-depth interviews):
men often justified abusive behaviours respondents often indicated that their roles as husband/father required certain controlling behaviours and allowed for certain entitlements/rights – these are exercised in the name of duty and responsibility

11 Quotes “A woman cannot leave the home without the permission of her husband. A man has a right to prevent his wife from hanging with people he believes would have a negative impact on her. It is the duty of a man to protect his family.” “ Canadians consider any kind of control or leadership of a man at home abuse. For example,if you don’t allow your wife to leave the house for good reasons. I believe abuse is only beating your wife and your children that has either physical and/or psychological harm.”

12 Findings (in-depth interviews) continued
“othering” discourse of domestic violence domestic violence is associated with drugs and alcohol domestic violence seen as a social problem for Canadian society part of a strategy to construct a positive self-identity and community image in relation to mainstream society associated with a weak moral sense of self Feel that Islam has provided morals and that teaches people to be good – view themselves as moral beings – have a value system

13 Findings (in-depth interviews) continued
Views on the work of anti-violence agencies most participants believed that mainstream anti-violence services do not meet the needs of Muslim families their belief is that these social services emphasize the individuality of women and children over the significance of family relationships many participants believe that anti-violence agencies harm families and break them apart expressed beliefs that Canadian social services misunderstand Muslim men and judge them negatively and/or unfairly expressed opinions of anxiety and distrust with respect to the work of anti-violence agencies participants expressed that anti-violence agencies should focus on the whole family and not just the interests of women and children -- a lot of expression of fear and distrust --- Disempowerment by the structure of social service work – an undermining of their roles/identities in the family View them as divisive agents not conciliatory Participants also expressed that social service workers need to act as mediators and listen to all sides

14 Findings continued: overall participants believed that women should not ask for help from local anti-violence agencies like women’s shelters and police services however, respondents did mention that it is appropriate to seek out help from authorities and social services when physical injuries result participants felt that it is best to resolve family conflicts within the immediate or extended family, an Imam (he is seen to represent the interest of the family), or trusted friends important to understand the processes or mechanisms that Muslim families value, understand in solving family conflicts

15 Muslim men’s attitude towards child abuse

16 Findings (Questionnaire)
Acceptable and unacceptable disciplinary actions towards children the majority of the respondents believe it is acceptable for parents to punish their children by removing privileges, isolating them from their friends and yelling at them Almost all the men participated in the survey deemed it unacceptable for parents to withdraw food, isolate children from their families, remove the children’s clothing, or put their hands on their children’s mouths. views regarding parental rights over their children they believe that anything that occurs between parents and children is an internal issue of the family, and punishments imposed on children help them to learn to make better decisions. most of them also believed that the intervention of the authorities is acceptable if the parent’s physical punishment leaves bruises.

17 Findings (in-depth interviews)
even though the intervention of child protection agencies in cases of severe physical punishment was seen as acceptable, they thought that over all the negative consequences of intervention by authorities outweighs the positive ones. Most of the interviewees accepted the appropriateness of intervention by the authorities if the parents used alcohol or drugs when they neglected and/or abused their children. they believed that it is sometime necessary to use physical punishment with some children to protect them and prevent them from becoming criminals, using drugs and being promiscuous.

18 Findings (in-depth interviews) continued
it is acceptable to use physical violence to prevent a young female from becoming involved in sexual activities outside of marriage. Canadian culture encourages girls and boys to become sexually active with one another before marriage. One of the interviewees said: My wife attended a community workshop and was told not to prevent your kids to bring their boyfriend or girlfriend home. If they want to have sex with each other don’t prevent them from having it. if there was suspicion that a child was engaging in sexual behaviour, this would be enough reason to punish him or her physically. Girls would be more closely monitored in this regard.

19 Final Thoughts understanding the manner in which Muslim men define or give meaning to domestic violence against women and children will help us develop appropriate prevention materials to further change attitudes there is a gap between how social services are provided by anti-violence agencies and the needs, values, priorities of Muslim families understanding men’s everyday lives and masculinities in social context is important for any further work with Muslim men

20 Final Thoughts Muslim families need an approach to intervention that appropriately recognizes the communal nature of families. there is a need for specific intervention program for Muslim men that combine identified best practices in mainstream intervention with the unique cultural context of Muslim families such services are necessary to assist victimized women and their children and protect them from further victimization through developing healthier relationships to ensure the effectiveness of this kind of intervention program Muslim community leaders should be encouraged to be part of the process of development of the program.

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