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GBV in Canada

Our repository includes 53 research reports and annotated bibliographies on gender-based violence in Canada. We collected academic research as well as community-based reports published by NGOs (“grey literature”).

We used a broad definition of GBV* and looked for research that addressed newcomers, refugees and other immigrant groups, although not exclusively so. We also found some research on GBV against immigrant women that advanced more nuanced intersections e.g. immigrant women, homelessness and intimate partner violence (Tabibi & Baker 2017).

These are the selected resources found in the Environmental Scan that may be useful to service providers, refugee sponsors and other community members. 

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● Research on GBV needs/ barriers for newcomer and refugee women: There is a fairly significant and growing body of research on the needs/barriers experienced by newcomer and refugee women. Some key findings in this literature:

- GBV is not unique to any one community or culture.

- Experiences of GBV are complex and intersectional. For newcomer and refugee women, there are intersecting forms of oppression that shape risks and patterns of GBV as well as responses to GBV. These may include but are not limited to: gender identity, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, ability, religion and immigrant status, among other axes of difference. For example, we know that women with disabilities are twice as likely as women without disabilities to have been sexually assaulted in the last year (DAWN 2019). In addition to domestic violence, ableism, and lack of accessibility of services, newcomer women with disabilities can experience discrimination or profiling based on their race or ethnicity, religion/faith, language, ability, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and class (OCASI 2019).

- Newcomer and refugee women (as a diverse group) may be less likely to report GBV or seek support because of systemic barriers in accessing supports e.g. fear of deportation, racism/ xenophobia, services that do not recognize their needs.


- Our research also identified domestic violence shelters as a key site where newcomer, refugee and/or other immigrant survivors may encounter systemic barriers while in crisis, although more extensive research is needed. A number of small-scale studies, for example, document forms of re-victimization that racialized, Muslim and/or immigrant women have experienced when seeking supports at domestic violence shelters, including a lack of culturally safe supports, and instances of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia (Ahmadzai 2015; Korteweg et al 2013).

Case example: VAW learning network issue on immigrant and refugee women

Case Study GBV

In a fact sheet on IPV against Immigrant and Refugee women, the VAW learning network provided the following illustration to try and capture the intersectional nature of GBV. As they explained:

“It is essential to recognize that immigrant and refugee women hold many intersecting identities (e.g. sex, gender, education, race/ethnicity, sexuality, ability, religion). These intersections will greatly impact not only their vulnerability to intimate partner violence, but also their experiences and the system’s responses to them (e.g. justice, housing). Women who are marginalized in multiple ways and who face structural violence by different systems of discrimination have difficulty being believed, accessing support, and finding safety” (Tabibi et al 2018). Read More

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