The needs of pacific women when they are victims of family violence.

Author:Koloto, Ana Hau'alofa'ia
 
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Abstract

A concern about the dearth of research data on the specific needs of Pacific victims of crime led to a study which explored the needs of Pacific people who have been victims of three types of crime: violence, family violence and property offences. The study was designed to provide qualitative information to complement the quantitative information provided by the second New Zealand National Survey of Crime Victims 2001. Various Pacific theoretical frameworks for research were utilised to inform the design and analysis used in this study. This paper focuses on the women in that sample, and considers the needs of Pacific women who are victims of family violence. The findings indicate that victims of family violence were at different stages of dealing with the impacts of the violence inflicted by other members of their families. The paper concludes by suggesting some implications for social policy.

INTRODUCTION

Pacific peoples have been identified as the most at-risk population group in New Zealand in terms of social and economic deprivation. There is a growing recognition of the need for more informed data and research on issues that have a significant impact on the lives of Pacific peoples. In the justice area, two key issues stand out: offending and victimisation. One of the few sources of information on the victimisation of Pacific peoples was the first New Zealand National Survey of Crime Victims 1996, which provided some insight into the prevalence of violent offences against Pacific peoples (Young et al. 1997:34-35). These findings were based on a small sample of Pacific participants and suggested that further research was warranted.

The concern about the dearth of research data on the specific needs of Pacific victims of crime led to a study (Koloto 2003) that explored the needs of Pacific peoples who have been victims of three types of crime: violence, family violence and property offences. The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and undertaken with funding support from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. It was designed to provide qualitative information to complement the quantitative information provided by the second New Zealand National Survey of Crime Victims 2001 (Ministry of Justice 2001). This paper focuses on the women in the Pacific sample. Specifically, the data obtained through individual interviews on the needs of Pacific women who are victims of family violence are considered. We shall briefly mention the theoretical framework and the research methodology before turning to the results.

PACIFIC THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS

The study is an example of a Pacific governance research project. Based on the Maori advancement and Maori development research models proposed by Cunningham (2000), the Pacific Health Research Committee of the Health Research Council proposed a focus on Pacific governance research. In particular, Pacific governance research refers to Pacific research projects led by Pacific researchers using Pacific theoretical frameworks to inform the methodology of the research.

A combination of different theoretical frameworks proposed by Pacific researchers, such as Tamasese et al.'s (1997) concept of Fa'afaletui, Teremoana MaUa-Hodges's Tivaevae model (2000), Jean Mitaera's (1997) concept of the "researcher as the first paradigm", Konai Helu-Thaman's metaphor of "Kakala" (1992), and Koloto's (2001) Pacific Cultural Competency framework were utilised to inform the research design, data analysis and dissemination of results.

METHODOLOGY

Project Aims and Objectives

The lack of research data on the needs of Pacific peoples who have been victims of crime was a key rationale for the present study. The research aimed to:

* gather in-depth information to increase and enhance our knowledge of the needs of Pacific peoples who are victims of crime

* ascertain the appropriateness of victim support services and community-based services for Pacific peoples who have been victims of violence, family violence, and property offences

* identify related health needs of Pacific victims of crime and appropriate measures to meet those needs

* identify appropriate support mechanisms from criminal justice sector agencies, such as the police and victim support organisations.

Research Sample

The sample consisted of 100 Pacific peoples, aged 16-84 years. The sample size of 100 for this study was predetermined by the commissioning agency, the Ministry of Justice, and mainly comprised cases of violence (11 males and 2 females), family violence (34 females) and property offences (24 males and 17 females). The data reported in this paper come from the 34 Pacific women who were identified in the family violence category.

The Interviews

The interview team represented six Pacific groups. They were bilingual, and the interview schedule was translated into their respective languages. Individual interviews were conducted with each of the participants at a time and place acceptable to them. The purpose of and the significance of their contribution to this research was explained to each participant. Participants were given time to ask questions and have these questions answered, and the interviews lasted between one and two hours.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The data analysis was conducted using the transcripts of the interviews. Common themes emerging from the data were identified and used to frame the presentation and discussion of the findings. Extracts from the interviews are used to illustrate the themes. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the participants. This section describes and discusses data on the 34 family violence cases.

Nature of the Crime

Table 1 summarises the distribution of the types of offence involving family violence. Most commonly, the incidents involved a husband or a male partner as the perpetrator. Thirty out of 34 family violence cases (88%) belong to this category, including one case where the husband abused his wife's son from a previous marriage. Of the 29 cases where the male partner assaulted the female partner, three were "one-off" cases involving a single incident, while 26 involved long-term ongoing abuse of the female participants. Moreover, it should be noted that all three female participants in the one-off incidents were able to deal with the situation by leaving the relationship.

The majority of family violence cases (see Table 1) were domestic violence where the husband or male partner assaulted his wife or female partner. It should be noted that while the interview focused on one incident, most participants reported that they experienced ongoing domestic violence. The violence lasted between six months and eight years. Of interest to the researchers were the reasons given for the violence, which were many and varied. These included, but were not limited to, the following motivations.

* The male partner was jealous of the female partner.

* The wife or female partner did not get up to warm up the food for the husband.

* Alcohol was involved and therefore the offender lost control.

* The wife threatened to leave with the children.

The extract below illustrates the extreme nature of some of the family violence cases. It is evident from the description that this act of violence was premeditated...

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