Public Health Agency of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Share this page

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence E-Bulletin: February 2012

Sharing knowledge on family violence prevention

Feature Articles

Victimization among visible minority and immigrant populations

By Maire Sinha, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

In 2009, the General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization External link—a Canadian household survey that collects data on self-reported experiences of victimizationFootnote 1—indicated that immigrants were less likely than non-immigrants to have self-reported experiences of spousal violence in the past five years (four percent versus seven percent for non-immigrants). “Spousal violence” was defined in the survey as abuse from a current or former legal or common-law partner. Five percent of visible minoritiesFootnote 2 self-reported physical or sexual abuse from their spouse in the previous five years, in keeping with the six percent of non-visible minorities who experienced spousal violence.

One aspect of the GSS worth noting is that the survey is conducted in French or English only, meaning some immigrants may be unable to participate.

Other findings from the 2009 GSS show the rate of violent victimization among visible minorities was 63 percent lower than the rate for non-visible minorities (76 versus 124 per 100,000 population). ImmigrantsFootnote 3 experienced almost half the rate of violent victimization of non-immigrants (62 versus 133 per 100,000 population).

Footnote 1
Includes all individuals living in Canadian provinces. Data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut were collected using a different methodology and are therefore excluded from this analysis.

Footnote 2
Includes individuals (with the exception of Aboriginal persons) who self-identified as non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.

Footnote 3
Includes all individuals who were not born in Canada and/or were not Canadian citizens by birth.

Public education on woman abuse in Ontario’s immigrant and refugee communities

By Delna Karanjia, Ontario Women’s Directorate

Young woman taking notesOntario’s Neighbours, Friends and Families External link—a public education campaign that aims to provide those close to at-risk women or abusive men with the information to become involved and prevent further violence—is helping raise awareness of the warning signs and risk factors related to the abuse of women.

Since March 2011, Neighbours, Friends and Families has reached out to immigrant and refugee communities in partnership with the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants External link(OCASI) and nine member agencies. In doing so, it encourages understanding of differences and promotes discussions about domestic violence across all cultures and within all communities.

Early participants in the campaign have explored themes such as family disintegration; the further stigmatization and racial profiling of some ethno-racial communities; the lack of culturally appropriate resources and services for women; and the need for a better understanding of Canadian law.

Almost 30 linguistic and ethno-cultural groups across Ontario have adapted the campaign to reflect their specific cultural practices and concepts of family structure. Community leaders also facilitate training in their native languages, helping groups develop acceptable, effective messages and seek solutions in a culturally appropriate manner.

For more information, visit External link.

Forced marriages

three people shadowsBy Hoori Hamboyan, Counsel, Family, Children and Youth Section, Justice Canada
Based on an interview with Deepa Mattoo - lawyer with the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)

The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario External link (SALCO), whose lawyers advocate on behalf of those wanting to prevent or end a forced marriage, has created ‘The Right to Choose,’ a toolkit to raise public awareness that forced marriage is a human rights violation.

Forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, both parties give their full and free consent while in cases of forced marriage, one or both of the spouses do not consent.  People of all cultural backgrounds have experienced forced marriages.  In Canada, forced marriages sometimes happen within newcomer communities that fear the erosion of their ethnic identity.

Forced marriage is a form of family violence. One example of a forced marriage might be where parents take their daughter to their country of origin for a so-called family holiday, and upon arrival she discovers that her spouse has been chosen and her wedding is imminent. If she does not show willingness to comply, family members might use physical, sexual or emotional abuse or forced confinement to force the marriage. People forced into marriages often experience ongoing violence including sexual assault throughout the marriage.

All Canadians need to be aware that forced marriage is a form of family violence, and as such, it is illegal. For more information on forced marriage or SALCO’s toolkit, please visit External link.


Addressing family violence in settlement services for newcomers to Canada

two broken dry flowersBy Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada External link’s Settlement Program, which helps permanent residents settle and integrate successfully into Canadian life, includes a number of components that address family violence.

The program’s information and awareness services include orientation sessions and publications that speak to domestic violence and the rights of women and children, specifically as they relate to Canadian law and legal/police services. They also provide pre- and post-arrival information for immigrants to Canada—about life in Canada, rights and responsibilities, and health services.

As part of its needs assessment, referral and support services, the Settlement Program helps victims of family violence reach the counselling services and care available in the community.

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada External link(LINC) classes include family violence topics such as cultural differences regarding spousal abuse, child discipline and elder abuse. This is a component of broader language learning and skills development services which provide language, literacy and numeric instruction, language learning circles and life skills training.

For more information on the Settlement Program, please visit: External link

Information services for newcomers who have been victim of a crime

two women having discussionBy Sylviane Lamothe, Victim Services, Correctional Service Canada

Immigrants to Canada have diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences. Some arrive from countries where police, corrections and the justice system are viewed negatively—leading them to feel distressed and isolated if they become victims of crime. They may also be hesitant to seek help. The Correctional Service of Canada External link(CSC) provides confidential services to Canadian residents harmed by federal offenders, treating them with fairness and respect. 

The National Victim Services Program of CSC helps crime victims understand the correctional process, contributes to their safety and wellbeing, and assists with the healing process. Victims of crime can access information about the offender who harmed them provided the offender is serving a federal sentence of two or more years. The program has staff dedicated exclusively to providing this information, receiving victim statements, referring victims for additional services and giving information about the correctional system.
CSC is also committed to ensuring that victims of crime have an effective voice in the federal corrections and criminal justice systems. To this end, victims can provide important and relevant information to CSC about an offender, as well as any safety concerns they may have. This information helps CSC determine and decide upon temporary absences or work releases as well as an offender’s programming needs, risk level and security level. 

To learn more, please contact CSC Victim Services toll free at 1-866-806-2275 or online at External link.