Academic journal article Social Work

A Black Experience-Based Approach to Gender-Based Violence

Academic journal article Social Work

A Black Experience-Based Approach to Gender-Based Violence

Article excerpt

Gender-based violence (GBV) is defined as "physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life" (United Nations, 2007). GBV includes childhood sexual abuse, "prenatal sex selection in favor of boys, female infanticide, dowry deaths, honour killings, female genital mutilation, trafficking and forced prostitution, forced early marriage, sexual assault and intimate partner violence" (Renzetti, 2005, p. 1009). Although GBV is a critical problem within communities of color, limited culturally competent interventions are available to address this issue. The black experience-based social work (BEBSW) perspective, as discussed by Martin and Martin (1995), offers a culturally based framework that can be applied within black communities. The central themes of BEBSW are separation and loss and are explained by using the three concepts: moaning, mourning, and morning. The purpose of this article is to explore how BEBSW can be applied to finding solutions for GBV among African American women.

SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM

Although this article discusses GBV solutions for African American women, it is important to contextuallze the problem of GBV. It is estimated that one out of three women and girls across the world experience GBV (Ellsberg, 2006; Stevens, 2001). In a World Health Organization study on women's health and domestic violence within 10 countries, physical violence, sexual violence, or both existed among 15 percent to 71 percent of the women (Garcia-Moreno, Jasen, Ellsberg, Helse, & Watts, 2005). In another multicountry study on domestic violence, between 21 percent and 58 percent of the women surveyed experienced physical and sexual violence in their lifetime, and between 17 percent and 48 percent of these women experienced the same type of violence at the hands of an intimate partner (Kishor & Kiersten, 2004). Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common of these types of violence. In a review of 70 population-based studies, the rate of IPV among women was between 10 percent and 60 percent (Ellsberg, 2006). In country after country, the statistics are staggering: Nearly 50 percent of women in Bangladesh have experienced IPV from a male partner; 80 percent of women in Pakistan have experienced IPV from a male partner; and every 83 seconds, a woman is raped in South Africa, with only 20 percent of these women reporting the case to police annually (Family-Violence Prevention Fund, 2007; Pan American Health Organization, 2005).

The United States is not exempt from these forms of violence. More than 30 percent of U.S. women have reported experiencing physical or sexual abuse by a husband or boyfriend each year (Commonwealth Fund, 1999), with estimates as high as 5 million U.S. women experiencing domestic violence each year (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2003).African American women have been particularly vulnerable to more lethal forms of violence and greater severity of violence than other groups of women (Bent-Goodley, 2001; T. West, 1999). Women of color face increased barriers to treatment and are less likely to obtain services that are culturally responsive and, hence, more targeted at the social and cultural contexts in which they live (Bent-Goodley, 2005b; Sokoloff& Pratt, 2005). African American women are also more likely to have their children removed from the home and become incarcerated under mandatory arrest laws compared with women from other ethnic groups (Bent-Goodley, 2005b). African American women are more likely to be resistant to receiving services for fear of being treated poorly or misunderstood by the practitioner (Bent-Goodley, 2004; T. West, 1999).They have also experienced discriminatory treatment; for example, African American women have been turned away from services, arrested, and prosecuted because of negative stereotypes (Bent-Goodley, 2005b; T. …

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