Researching gender-based violence with minoritised communities in the UK

Authored by: Khatidja Chantler

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Violence

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472483515
eBook ISBN: 9781315612997
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses the challenges of undertaking sensitive topic research, specifically gender-based violence in minoritised communities. Drawing on my research, it highlights three interrelated dynamics of engaging in such research. First, it is often assumed that gender-based violence is largely similar for all women. In this position, the experiences of minoritised women are made invisible so that specific forms of violence and their impacts are left unexplored by research. Second, where gender-based violence in minoritised communities is engaged with, it is frequently framed in a pathologising manner. This dynamic between invisibility on the one hand and pathologisation on the other hand has been termed ‘normalised absence/pathologised presence’ by Ann Phoenix (1987). A third dynamic is the way in which the positioning of minoritised communities, particularly in the current anti-immigration climate, shapes the difficulty of speaking about issues such as gender-based violence without being represented as more barbaric and from a more backward culture than majority communities are. A related dynamic refers to some community leaders’ preference for dealing with matters such as gender-based violence ‘in-house’, which we have termed ‘cultural privacy’. Despite such challenges, this chapter argues that it is not only possible, but also vital, to conduct research in order to build a research base which can be utilised to protect women and children from minoritised communities experiencing gender-based violence in a way which respects their experiences.

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