Immigrant Women Face Harsher Plight With Domestic Violence


The cowardice act of domestic violence has seen a surge in lieu of stressful economic times.

And while governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger have made it increasingly difficult for women to get assistance after cutting funding for agencies that provide domestic violence services, it’s becoming particularly hard for immigrant women to get help.


Isa Woldeguiorguis, policy and systems advocacy directory at Jane Doe Inc., tells WeNews: "For immigrant and refugee women, the recession paints a dangerous picture."

Just how grim is this picture? Bijoyeta Das of WeNews reports:

For those who specialize in helping immigrant women, many of them undocumented, the stresses are particularly acute.

"It's been really really difficult and just speaking with other organizations, I know we are not the only one," said Qingjian Shi, director of education and outreach at the Boston-based Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence.

"When these domestic violence service programs, such as shelters, get squeezed it is poor women who are the most affected, including a disproportionate number of immigrant women and women of color," said Rhoad at Human Rights Watch.

In previous posts related to the economy and immigration, I’ve read countless commentators speak solely on Latino immigrants. However, this article also touched on the plight of immigrants who make up a part of the Diaspora:

The Association of Haitian Women in Boston once had four advocates, but now there is just one, said Carmelle Bonhometre, domestic violence program director at the organization.


The economic downturn has led to an increase in the intensity and rate of domestic violence, she said. Now more people in the Haitian community know about the organization and each day more women come in with tales of pain and abuse. As funding shrinks, however, there is less help available. Interns pitch in, she said, but it is never enough.

As a result, along with outreach projects, an after-school program for the victims' children and English language and Creole literacy classes were truncated. "It is not a pretty picture and it is getting worse every single day," Bonhometre said.


While this piece focuses on the Boston area, curtailing aid to battered women’s shelters has become a nationwide trend.

Fortunately, last week California’s state Senate passed a bill to restore funding to domestic violence shelters. But there are other states, like Massachusetts and Rhode Island that still lack the resources to help victims of domestic violence. And for states with sizable immigrant populations, now is not the time to be working with less. Immigrant women need people who can assist them with their cultural and language barriers.


Woldeguiorguis added: "The hurdles that refugee and immigrant women have to go through to reach safety, liberty, dignity are so much greater than they are for non-immigrant women."

What fate will these women and their children greet with fewer and fewer resources available to them?


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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.