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P hilip Gilligan, University of Bradford Cultural barriers to the disclosure of child sexual abuse in Asian communities: listening.

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Presentation on theme: "P hilip Gilligan, University of Bradford Cultural barriers to the disclosure of child sexual abuse in Asian communities: listening."— Presentation transcript:

1 P hilip Gilligan, University of Bradford Cultural barriers to the disclosure of child sexual abuse in Asian communities: listening to what women say

2 Hes not Asian. Hes not a woman. And hes an academic!

3 See Gilligan, P. with Akhtar, S. (2005) Child sexual abuse amongst Asian communities: developing materials to raise awareness in Bradford, Practice, 17(4), pp Gilligan, P. with Akhtar, S. (2005) Cultural barriers to the disclosure of child sexual abuse in Asian communities: listening to what women say, British Journal of Social Work, 36 (8)pp

4 Brief Introduction Background – 1996 to 2003 Listening to Asian women Pauses for thought Questions and discussion

5 Asian children underrepresented amongst those disclosing child sexual abuse and/or receiving relevant services, perhaps by 1:2 Allegations of csa investigated by Bradford Police 2002 = 7% - (24 of 326 cases) Cf. Bradford s Asian population = 18.9% (2001 census)

6 Evidence that this does not result primarily from any lower prevalence of child sexual abuse in Asian communities See Patel (1991), Gibbons et al. (1995), Moghal et al. (1995), Barn et al. (1997), The Children s Society (1999), Qureshi et al. (2000), Bernard (2001), O Dell (2003),

7 Pakistan, India and Bangladesh Sahil ( Islamabad, Pakistan RAHI ( ) Delhi, India Aalor Shishura ( ) Bangladesh

8 FSU Bradford 1996 Spoke to adult Asian survivors and professionals Wanted to protect –children from abuse. –families from interference by professionals and agencies who may break-up the family

9 Fear of breaches of confidentiality and adverse attention from the wider community Some families unable to confront the issues within the family Not knowing where to go for help Wary of white organisations Valued the support of one key worker who maintained contact and offered a caring and confidential advice.

10 RECOMMENDATIONS Outreach to provide information about child sexual abuse Educational work among local Asian children Recruit and train Asian professionals Build on local experience Apply procedures with flexibility Ensure that FSU s Alma Street Project fulfilled aim of reaching Bradford s various Asian communities

11 Alma Street Project Proportion of Asian service users 1999 / 00 = 4% Despite: Asian workers Voluntary sector Much higher proportions in other projects

12 JENSI TASHADUD KE BARE MEIN BAAT KEYJA March £15,000 from Bradford Childrens Fund outreach and educational work within the Asian communities in Bradford to increase awareness of and appropriate responses to child sexual abuse, with the aim of eventually increasing the use of relevant services by Asian children who have been sexually abused

13 Questionnaire Autumn % aware, but: most unwilling to discuss it. 78% Not aware of services People feel that if sexual abuse is disclosed then children are taken away and not given back Need basic information about child sexual abuse, its seriousness and about services + information in accessible formats which is culturally sensitive to the needs of Asian service users.

14 Consultations + Asian groups and organisations, groups of Asian women, agencies and professionals Fear of immediate consequences within the family: Disruption, Blame, Arguments…… Fear of what action will be taken by Social Services and Police: Children will be taken away! Shame and Embarrassment: People will talk about you and blame you, because you are the mother.

15 Long-term Consequences for Family: Marriage prospects of children. Difficult to discuss across the generations. Fear of talking about sexual matters. Will it promote promiscuity? Not having the words to do it, politely.

16 Consultation Event 1 April 2003 The use of inclusive concepts and wording Clarity about who the information is for; children or adults? Reassure potential service users about how agencies will respond A variety of services, including: - separate work with men and women, age appropriate groups, group and individual work, work with the whole family, male and female workers, etc.


18 6 languages (Bangla, English, Gujerati, Punjabi, Pushto and Urdu) 5,000 distributed in first 12 months Copies still available



21 Alma Street Project Proportion of Asian service users 1999 / 00 = 4% 2003 / 04 = 33% Direct result of outreach? Typical of other agencies experiences? Mainstream local Asian communities?

22 Listening to what women say

23 12 focus groups involving 130 women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Consultation Event – 40 participants, mainly female Asian practitioners 2003/2004

24 90% of participants were from Urdu / Punjabi speaking communities Overwhelmingly Muslim Discussions in Urdu, Punjabi, Bangla and English. S

25 Focus Groups: Invited to give feedback on Protect Children from Sexual Abuse, especially Alia s Story General welcome for booklet and its content and format Catalyst for further discussion S

26 Read Alias Story Answer the questions


28 Responses of Group A particularly instructive to non- Asian researcher

29 Most of the women in the group : No she didn t protect her daughter Woman 3: When her daughter told her about it she should have done something. What do you think Alia s own mother should have done? Did she protect her daughter?

30 Woman 4: She probably felt helpless thinking Alia s father won t believe her and her uncle will deny it.

31 Few women at once: Yes no one admits to anything like this but its wrong and something should be done about it, she probably thought of lots of different potential problems and kept quiet.

32 Women 5 & 6: Look poor child being abused till she s eleven and mother thinking about izzat of the family and feeling she can t do anything because she wants to protect family honour.

33 Woman 7: Yes you can understand about family izzat but you have to think how the little girl would be affected, her whole life and personality could be affected. It is wrong after all, and she would always be scared and lack confidence. You have to protect the children.

34 Highlighted importance of cultural imperatives in limiting disclosure of sexual abuse Izzat Sharam Haya Izzat, Haya and Sharam or English equivalents mentioned in all groups

35 Who would you expect to find it easier to talk to about protecting themselves from sexual abuse 8 year old or 15 year old?

36 Group E It s easier to talk to children when they re young so we should be able to talk about this quite easily, because as they get older and go into their teens we won t be able to talk to them as openly as we d like to because of our cultural practice haya (modesty) and sharam (shyness/embarrassment). Haya / sharam will act as a barrier and will not allow us to talk to our children freely.

37 because we tell our children not to talk about anything sexual, which leads them to believe any sexual act is shameful and this prevents them to talk about any wrongful incident such as sexual abuse

38 the community will keep sexual abuse undercover because of izzat. Such cases are not discussed so easily and openly. its difficult to go to someone outside including services for help as this would show that family in a bad light and it could also get out in the community bringing shame to the family

39 GROUP F Woman 2: Well it is well hidden, and we keep it hidden. How can anyone know? SA: Why do you think it s hidden? Woman 3: Because of izzat obviously and also fear of not being believed Woman 4: You d want to protect your daughter s izzat because people talk and gossip

40 Related Studies P

41 The groups proposed that izzat was given precedence over the care and happiness of children in some families. … izzat could be misused … to coerce women into remaining silent about their problems. Chew-Graham et al (2002)

42 "Reflected shame, which is brought upon a person or family by the perceived, aberrant behaviour of another, is a much more powerful concept in Asian culture. Accordingly, if an Asian woman has a mental health problem, it must be kept within the family. If it is not, dishonour is then brought upon that family." Gilbert et al (2004)

43 Terms such as izzat (honour) sharam (shame) transcend linguistic interpretation. They embody enormously powerful cultural judgements with the power to include and ostracize. … they persistently legitimise gender violence and oppression and further silence women from being able to discuss, seek support or challenge such oppressions, for in doing so it is deemed as bringing further shame and dishonour to the family and community. Bhardwaj (2001)

44 Emphasising izzat etc could lead white practitioners and policy makers into unhelpful pathologising of cultures which they do not adequately understand. Pause for thought – Dangers Ahead 1

45 Pause for thought – Dangers Ahead 2 Diversion of attention from the need to overcome barriers for which practitioners and policy makers are responsible and /or can influence i.e. culturally incompetent practice, lack of language skills, racism, etc.

46 Cultural imperatives such as izzat are not the only issue. Any unhelpful impact of izzat etc is compounded by difficulties arising from perceived inadequacies of and fears about, responses from relevant agencies and professionals, including inadequate cultural awareness, competence and sensitivity and inflexible systems and procedures.

47 Overcoming barriers resulting from current interpretations of izzat etc may be crucial to progress Necessary changes will come from within Asian communities, not from outside them

48 Culture is dynamic For some izzat will, in fact, be the concept motivating appropriate responses to child sexual abuse.

49 I don t know why people hide these things. OK, its about izzat, but you have to see the injustice done to the child. You have to speak out about something like this. Definitely. Woman 5 from Group A

50 We should not hide these things. Fear of losing izzat; that s true as well, but would you not protect your child because of izzat?

51 Summary Under-reporting of child sexual abuse in Britains Asian communities Varied capacity amongst professionals to respond with cultural competence. Professional approaches originate in cultural contexts, often different from those of most British Asians. Asian communities are aware of child sexual abuse and recognize that the issue needs to be addressed.

52 Report that many of those affected have found it difficult to access relevant services. Difficulties arise in part from Asian womens fears about how agencies will respond. Frequently compounded by the impact of cultural imperatives. If % of children and non-abusing carers from Asian communities who access services is to increase, professionals need to develop better understandings of cultural imperatives engage in respectful dialogue

53 P hilip Gilligan, University of Bradford Cultural barriers to the disclosure of child sexual abuse in Asian communities: listening to what women say

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