More domestic abuse victims in South Asian communities would come forward if better specialist support services were in place, an NSPCC-commissioned report says.
“I can’t tell people what is happening at home”, by Shayma Izzidien, calls for more “culturally appropriate” refuges to be built with funding for counselling, advocacy and outreach services.
At present there are just 265 bed spaces in 28 specialist Asian refuges in England for women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
The report finds that many families are unaware of existing support services, and even if they want to come forward, are deterred by concerns that they may suffer racial discrimination from relevant authorities. Another barrier is the “negative perceptions of services” which “many South Asians” have.
Advertising campaigns are needed to educate South Asian communities about available services and the various forms that domestic abuse can take, such as physical, sexual, financial, psychological, emotional and controlling behaviour, the report says.
It includes evidence of poor interventions from professionals such as police officers, social workers and teachers, who “engage reluctantly with South Asian cases because of concerns about political correctness and fears of being labelled racist”.
It calls for better training of professionals in mainstream services in how to support women and children from South Asian communities including awareness of young people living in or at risk of forced marriages.
Fear of being shunned
Izzidien describes the fears and cultural barriers that can prevent abuse victims from seeking help outside the family. These include being seen as responsible for breaking up the family and being shunned by relatives, which are exacerbated by notions of honour and shame.
But Izzidien concludes that South Asian women may also worry about being deported if their immigration status is not secure, or they will not be understood if their English is not fluent.