The effect of migration on urban migrant women's perceptions of domestic violence.

Kiwanuka, Monica
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This qualitative study conducted in Johannesburg and Pretoria, explores the effect of migration on domestic violence. Drawing on the social constructionist and feminist theory, the study investigates how migrant women understand and explain the effect of migration on domestic violence. Participants were identified using purposive and snowball techniques and narratives of fifteen migrant women were employed in data collection using a semi-structured interview guide. Data for this study was analysed using a combination of content, narrative and discourse analysis. Analysis of the data revealed that the context in which domestic violence is experienced greatly shaped how urban migrant women understood and explained domestic violence. Participants explained the meaning and effect of migration on domestic violence mainly drawing on discourses related to their experiences of migration. In addition, their definitions of domestic violence differed from the classical definitions that group domestic violence in categories; given that they drew on actual experiences in the context of migration as opposed to their home country to explain what domestic violence meant and how migration affected it. Further analysis, shows that broader factors in the context of migration including migrant women’s legal status, xenophobia, poverty, unemployment as well as immigration policies, intersected broadly with gender and unequal power relationships to increase migrant women’s vulnerability to domestic violence. Migrant women in this case, drew mainly on such migration related discourses to explain reasons that they felt led to increased domestic violence and to show how and why they endured domestic violence for survival in the absence of love for their spouses. 2 Factors including being migrants, women’s legal status, xenophobia, lack of networks, dependency caused by poverty and high crime rates in South Africa were also seen by migrant women as heightening their fear of public violence leading to the tolerance and preference of private violence as the only available option. Migrant women also idealised their home country as safer from domestic violence to show the negative consequences of migration on women and how it increases domestic violence. In doing so, they drew on the discourse of culture which they understood as tied to place to explain its role in prohibiting and minimising domestic violence, and to justify not using available services for responding to domestic violence in South Africa. In employing such discourses, they intended to show how services for responding to domestic violence in the host country1 were culturally inappropriate for migrant women and the attachments they held towards their home country and culture.
Migration, Domestic violence