Intimate partner violence and immigration laws in Canada: How far have we come?

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International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp. 335-341.

Alaggia, Ramona
Regehr, Cheryl
Rishchynsk, Giselle

Journal article
Canadian CW research

This study examined the structural barriers that hinder immigrant and refugee women’s ability to exit abusive relationships. Research was gathered in Toronto using a purposive sampling strategy through two different methods: key informant interviews and focus groups. 

Themes extrapolated from interviews and focus groups include: cultural practices prohibiting disclosure/reporting, reluctance of police intervention, isolation, staying for the children, economic barriers, and fear of immigration repercussions. The authors also demonstrated the ways that each of these themes relates to a woman’s situation as an immigrant.  Respondents, for instance, reported that the fear of child welfare involvement particularly as immigrants awaiting permanent residency posed a barrier to reporting abuse. 

The authors concluded by stating “women who are newcomers and immigrants in Canada face additional barriers due to immigration policies” (p.340) and that attempts made by Immigration Canada to allow for sponsorship breakdown on humanitarian and compassionate grounds is insufficient in alleviating the precarious situation faced by immigration women experiencing intimate partner abuse.

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