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THE CANADIAN ETHNOCULTURAL MOSAIC & VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: UNTANGLING SOME TANGLED LINKS To be Presented at Metropolis Project Conflict & Violence in.

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Presentation on theme: "THE CANADIAN ETHNOCULTURAL MOSAIC & VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: UNTANGLING SOME TANGLED LINKS To be Presented at Metropolis Project Conflict & Violence in."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE CANADIAN ETHNOCULTURAL MOSAIC & VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: UNTANGLING SOME TANGLED LINKS To be Presented at Metropolis Project Conflict & Violence in Immigrant Families Session Aysan Sever, Ph.D. University of Toronto Scarborough

2 BACKGROUND: MULTICULTURALISM Multiculturalism was enshrined as a fundamental value of Canadian society and the Government of Canada with the proclamation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in The Act requires all federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations to implement the Multiculturalism Policy and ensure their programs, policies and services respond to the needs of Canadians of all backgrounds (Citizenship & Immigration Canada)

3 CANADIAN SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS Population: 33, 500,000 Pop. Growth Rate:.82 Birth Rate: 10.3/1,000 pop. Net Migration Rate: 5.6/1,000 pop. – 16 th in the world (the CIA World Factbook shows that only a number of small island nations and few larger countries in regions with refugee movements have higher per capita rates). Life Expectancy: 81 yrs. – 79 for men – 84 for women

4 CANADIAN SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS (cont...) Ethnic Groups British Origins: 28% French Origins: 23% European Origins: 15% Amerindian/First Nations: 2% Other: 32% Religion Roman Catholic: 43% Protestant: 23% Other Christian: 4% Muslim: 2% Jewish: 1.5% None or other: 28%

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6 WOMENS IMMIGRATION HIGHLIGHTS Between 1991 and 2006, over one million female immigrants arrived in Canada Approximately 58% of the newcomers were from Asia (and the Middle East). 74% of the newcomers were visible minorities 37% of the newcomers came as the spouse of an economic immigrant 11% of newcomers came as principal applicants 10% newcomers came as refugees

7 MOST COMMON PROBLEMS FEMALE IMMIG/REF. FACE (Economic) Economic/Labour Force – Lower LF participation than Can. Born women (64% versus 70%) – Lower LF participation than new comer men – Paid work of immigrant women is mostly in traditional womens work areas (sales, service) – Paid-work of immigrant women is high in low-skill manufacturing – Newcomer women are more likely to experience deskilling (from professional to non-professional types of jobs) – Newcomer women earn app. 20% less than Can. born women – Newcomer women earn 30% less than newcomer men (who in turn earn less than Can. born men.

8 MOST COMMON PROBLEMS FEMALE IMMIG/REF. FACE (Housing) Affordable housing shortages are problematic in major urban centres A large proportion of new immigrants settle in major urban centres Low income, poor housing are correlated Low income, poor housing and male-partner violence against women are correlated Low income, poor housing and public forms of violence against women are correlated

9 MOST COMMON PROBLEMS FEMALE IMMIG/REF. FACE (Education) Education – Bimodal: Newcomer women are more likely to have university degrees than Can. born women. At the same time, newcomer women are less likely to have completed high school than Can. born women – Formal education leads to less positive returns for newcomer women (credentials discounted and/or not considered as Canadian experience). – Returns on education begin only after 10 years, but never become as great as for Can. born women. – Even Can. Born womens educational returns are lower than the educational returns of Can. Born men

10 MOST COMMON PROBLEMS FEMALE IMMIGRANTS FACE (Ethnic & Religious aspects) Lack of language proficiency or having a strong accent are highly correlated with employability Employability is also correlated with visible aspects of religion (eg. Moslem women who wear the hijab face discrimination) Even more than women in general, newcomer women may find themselves in double and triple burden situations (poor work conditions, high expectations about traditional roles of housework/childcare, lack of social support systems, discrimination) Vicious cycle of low paying jobs, low pay, high levels of family demands, transient LF participation... Low paying jobs... Economic insecurity is correlated with emotional trauma (it is also correlated with violence against women by intimate partners)

11 MOST COMMON PROBLEMS FEMALE IMMIGRANTS FACE (Health) Overall, new immigrants are healthier than Canadian population at large Yet, within 10 years after arrival, they lose this advantage Newcomer women underutilize healthcare system – Language – How customs define health – Subjugation of individual health needs to family needs – Patriarchal traditions

12 VIOLENCE & ABUSE App. 1/3 Canadian women is physically victimized by male-partners at least once during an intimate relationship Most likely, emotional abuse rates are much higher Canadian knowledge about corresponding rates in newcomer women are less well-developed If generalizations from US studies are any indication, rates for visible minority women may be higher than rates for non-minority women

13 SOME REASONS BEHIND LACK OF UNDERSTANDING (in CAN.) ETHNOCULTURAL GR. BASED – Language problems – Cultural barriers – Social & family/kin pressures – Womens co-optation to patriarchal expectations – Knee-jerk responses to being othered – Mistrust in law/law- enforcement HOST SOCIETY BASED – Existence of stereotypes – Discrimination – Ethnocentrism – Othering – Overgeneralizations (eg. those people...) – Over-criminalization of some racial/ethnic grs.

14 COMPLEX OUTCOMES OF SOME NORMS/POSITIVE EFFORTS Personal/Social Levels: – Respect for family privacy and Dont ask/dont tell strategies about abuse/violevce (at personal level) – Respect for family privacy and Conspiracy of silence (family as well as community level) – Honour systems and their aberration – Dowry & bride-price systems and their aberration – Arranged marriage systems and their aberration Familys unwillingness to admit if the decision is wrong – Respect for age norms and their misuse – Respect for gender codes/expectations/norms and their misuse

15 COMPLEX OUTCOMES OF SOME NORMS/POSITIVE EFFORTS (cont...) Academic/Structural/Socio-political Levels – The entrenched principle of equality (as opposed to equity) (good: equality is much better than discrimination) (not so good: treating unequals as equal is an inequality in itself, and often gleans over the specific needs of women/children/aged) – Resistance to collect/analyze violence/violence against women data on race/ethnicity categories (good: attempts to avoid further stereotyping some of the already stereotyped/discriminated groups) (not so good: leaves holes in knowledge, discourages academics/policy makers from studying socially important patterns, does not allow a true understanding of the special needs of at risk groups (eg. newcomer women, immigrant/refugee women, women from honour-based cultures, visible minority women)

16 PUSHING THE PANDULUM TOO FAR Dangers of extending acceptance and tolerance to all aspects of ethnocultural difference Taking cultural relativity concept to its extreme Giving primacy to cultural rights over human rights and womens and childrens rights Giving primacy to sacredness of family relations over womens rights and childrens rights Defining human rights mostly as political rights rather than gender-based socio-cultural rights


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