Challenges to the proof of violence, and social stigma for ethnic migrant women in the current Victims of Family Violence (VFV) visa policy in Aotearoa New Zealand
Keywords:Family violence and immigration policy, ethnic women and family violence, immigration and social work
Introduction: Ethnic victim-survivors from Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American (MELAA) communities are unlikely to apply for the VFV visas (Ayallo, 2019), which does not reflect the number of family violence experiences in these communities. Instead, this paper argues that it is a testament to specific cultural factors determining their engagement with this policy. While some of these have previously been reported, their cultural aspects are not adequately understood.
Approach: Data were drawn from a study exploring the cultural contexts within which ethnic migrant women engage with the VFV visa policy. The study used narrative inquiry and semi-structured interviews to explore 20 participants’ experiences with the VFV visa policy process. Participants included ten victim-survivors and ten supporting non-medical practitioners.
Findings: Analyses showed that victim-survivors face significant barriers in accessing this visa. Proving that violence occurred, hardship and inability to return to their country of origin due to social stigma are complex and challenging for ethnic migrant women. The cultural reasons discussed in this paper include that psychological abuse is dominant, violence occurs transnationally, and hardship and social stigma are understood collectively and socially.
Implications: Given the potential of this visa policy initiative to provide safety for victim-survivor, recommendations for change are proposed. A humanitarian and compassionate approach that arises from the experiences of the 20 participants and a critical examination of countries with comparable policy frameworks is proposed. Further research is recommended with relevant stakeholders to explore the practicality of implementing such a humanitarian application process in the Aotearoa context.
 The term is used here to refer to individuals who have experienced family violence and successfully or unsuccessfully engaged with the VFV visa policy. In this paper, the term is used interchangeably with woman/women as appropriate (reflecting that in this study, all victim-survivors were women).
Abraham, M., & Tastsoglou, E. (2016). Addressing domestic violence in Canada and the United States: The uneasy co-habitation of women and the state. Current Sociology, 64(4), 568–585.
Amuedo-Dorantes, C., & Arenas-Arroyo, E. (2019). Police trust and domestic violence: Evidence from immigration policies. IZA Discussion Papers, No. 12721. Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), Bonn.
Anitha, S. (2011). Legislating gender inequalities: The nature and patterns of domestic violence experienced by South Asian women with insecure immigration status in the United Kingdom. Violence Against Women, 17(10), 1260–1285.
Ayallo, I. (2019 December 3-6). A perspective on S4.5 residence category for Victims of Domestic Violence (VDV) policy: Addressing domestic violence against ‘ethnic’ women [Conference paper] SAANZ, Auckland, NZ.
Ayallo, I. (2021). Intersections of immigration law and family violence: Exploring barriers for ethnic migrant and refugee background women. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 33(4), 55–64.
Bhatnagar, A. D. (2021). Navigating the intersections: Supports for immigrant women experiencing intimate partner violence. Simon Fraser University. https:// summit.sfu.ca/_flysystem/fedora/2022-08/input_ data/21291/etd21365.pdf
Citizens Advice Bureau. (2023). What is the Victims of Family Violence Work Visa? Retrieved August 25 from https:// www.cab.org.nz/article/KB00042971
Clandinin, D. J. (2006). Narrative inquiry: A methodology for studying lived experience. Research Studies in Music Education, 27(1), 44–54.
Clandinin, D. J., & Caine, V. (2008). Narrative inquiry. In L. M. Given (Ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods (pp. 542–545). SAGE Publications.
Clarke, V., Braun, V., & Hayfield, N. (2015). Thematic analysis. In Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (3rd ed., pp. 222–248). Sage.
Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5), 2–14.
Cook Heffron, L., Wachter, K., & Rubalcava Hernandez, E.J. (2022). “Mi Corazón se Partió en Dos”: Transnational motherhood at the intersection of migration and violence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(20), 13404. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192013404
Couture-Carron, A., Zaidi, A. U., & Ammar, N. H. (2022). Battered immigrant women and the police: A Canadian perspective. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 66(1), 50–69. https://doi. org/10.1177/0306624x20986534
Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2016). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Sage Publications.
El-Abani, S., Jacobs, S., Chadwick, K., & Arun, S. (2020). Migration and attitudes towards domestic violence against women: A case study of Libyan migrants in the UK. Migration and Development, 9(1), 111–130.
Erez, E., & Harper, S. (2018). Intersectionality, immigration, and domestic violence. In The handbook of race, ethnicity, crime, and justice (pp. 457–474). John Wiley & Sons.
Garcia-Moreno, C., Jansen, H. A., Ellsberg, M., Heise, L., & Watts, C. H. (2006). Prevalence of intimate partner violence: Findings from the WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence. The Lancet, 368(9543), 1260–1269.
Ghafournia, N., & Easteal, P. (2021). Help-seeking experiences of immigrant domestic violence survivors in Australia: A snapshot of Muslim survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(19–20), 9008–9034.
Government of Canada. (2021a). The humanitarian and compassionate assessment: Dealing with family relationships. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration- efugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/permanent-residence/humanitarian-compassionate-consideration/processing/assessment-dealing-family-relationships.html
Government of Canada. (2021b). Program delivery update: Victims or survivors of family violence – Humanitarian and compassionate grounds. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/updates/2021-familiy-violence-compassionate-grounds.html
Gray, L., Easteal, P., & Bartels, L. (2014). Immigrant women and family violence: Will the new exceptions help or hinder victims? Alternative Law Journal, 39(3), 167–171.
Hague, G., Gangoli, G., Joseph, H., & Alphonse, M. (2010). Raising silenced voices: South Asian women immigrating after marriage. Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, 3(1), 25–35.
Hulley, J., Bailey, L., Kirkman, G., Gibbs, G. R., Gomersall, T., Latif, A., & Jones, A. (2022). Intimate partner violence and barriers to help-seeking among Black, Asian, minority ethnic and immigrant women: A qualitative metasynthesis of global research. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 24(2, 1–15.
Ingram, M., McClelland, D. J., Martin, J., Caballero, M. F., Mayorga, M. T., & Gillespie, K. (2010). Experiences of immigrant women who self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act. Violence Against Women, 16(8), 858–880.
Jayasuriya-Illesinghe, V. (2018). Immigration policies and immigrant women’s vulnerability to intimate partner violence in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 19, 339–348.
Jayaweera, H., & Oliver, C. (2013). Mapping the conditions of stay and the rationale for entitlements and restrictions for family migrants in the United Kingdom. University of Oxford: COMPAS, UK.
Jelinic, A. B. (2021). Navigating the family law provisions: Migrant women's voices. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(4), 131–145.
Kapur, S., Zajicek, A., & Hunt, V. (2017). Immigration provisions in the violence against women act: Implications for Asian Indian marriage migrants. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 38(4), 456–480.
Kiamanesh, P., & Hauge, M. I. (2019). “We are not weak, we just experience domestic violence”—Immigrant women’s experiences of encounters with service providers as a result of domestic violence. Child & Family Social Work, 24(2), 301–308.
Menjívar, C., & Salcido, O. (2002). Immigrant women and domestic violence: Common experiences in different countries. Gender & Society, 16(6), 898–920.
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. (2020). Recent Migrant Victims of Family Violence Project 2019: Final Report. https://www.mbie.govt.nz/ dmsdocument/12138-recent-migrant-victims-of-family- violence-project-2019-final-report
Mirza, N. (2016). The UK government’s conflicting agendas and harmful immigration policies: Shaping South Asian women’s experiences of abuse and “exit”. Critical Social Policy, 36(4), 592–609.
Neufeld, H. (2009). Inadequacies of the humanitarian and compassionate procedure for abuse immigrant spouses. Journal of Law & Social. Policy, 22, 177. https://doi. org/10.60082/0829-3929.1006
New Zealand Immigration. (2023). Information for asylum seekers. https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand- visas/preparing-a-visa-application/living-in-new-zealand-permanently/information-for-refugees-and-asylum- seekers/asylum-seekers
Oliver, C. (2020). Irrational rationalities and governmentality- effected neglect in immigration practice: Legal migrants’ entitlements to services and benefits in the United Kingdom. The British Journal of Sociology, 71(1), 96–111.
Rahmanipour, S., Kumar, S., & Simon-Kumar, R. (2019). Underreporting sexual violence among “ethnic” migrant women: Perspectives from Aotearoa/New Zealand. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 21(7), 837–852.
Raj, A., & Silverman, J. (2002). Violence against immigrant women: The roles of culture, context, and legal immigrant status on intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 8(3), 367–398.
Reina, A. S., Lohman, B. J., & Maldonado, M. M. (2014). “He said they’d deport me”: Factors influencing domestic violence help-seeking practices among Latina immigrants. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(4), 593–615.
Savin-Baden, M., & Niekerk, L. V. (2007). Narrative inquiry: Theory and practice. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 31(3), 459–472.
Scott, M., Weaver, S., & Kamimura, A. (2018). Experiences of immigrant women who applied for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition in the United States: Analysis of legal affidavits. Diversity and Equality in Health and Care, 15(4), 145–150.
Segrave, M. (2021). Temporary migration and family violence: How perpetrators weaponise borders. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(4), 26–38.
Segrave, M. T. (2017). Temporary migration and family violence: An analysis of victimisation, vulnerability and support. Monash University.
Simon-Kumar, R. (2019). Ethnic perspectives in family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House. https://nzfvc.org.nz/issues-paper-14-ethnic-perspectives-family-violence-aotearoa-new-zealand
Tam, D. M., Tutty, L. M., Zhuang, Z. H., & Paz, E. (2016). Racial minority women and criminal justice responses to domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 31, 527–538.
Triandafyllidou, A. (2022). Temporary migration: Category of analysis or category of practice? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 48(16), 3847–3859.
Voolma, H. (2018). “I must be silent because of residency”: Barriers to escaping domestic violence in the context of insecure immigration status in England and Sweden. Violence Against Women, 24(15), 1830–1850.
Whelan, I. (2019). The effect of United Kingdom immigration policies on migrant access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, 45(1), 74–77.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
By completing the online submission process, you confirm you accept this agreement. The following is the entire agreement between you and the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) and it may be modified only in writing.
You and any co-authors
If you are completing this agreement on behalf of co-authors, you confirm that you are acting on their behalf with their knowledge.
By submitting the work you are:
- granting the ANZASW the right of first publication of this work;
- confirming that the work is original; and
- confirming that the work has not been published in any other form.
Once published, you are free to use the final, accepted version in any way, as outlined below under Copyright.
You assign copyright in the final, accepted version of your article to the ANZASW. You and any co-authors of the article retain the right to be identified as authors of the work.
The ANZASW will publish the final, accepted manuscript under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY 4.0). This licence allows anyone – including you – to share, copy, distribute, transmit, adapt and make commercial use of the work without needing additional permission, provided appropriate attribution is made to the original author or source.
A human-readable summary of the licence is available from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, which includes a link to the full licence text.
Under this licence you can use the final, published version of the article freely – such as depositing a copy in your institutional research repository, uploading a copy to your profile on an academic networking site or including it in a different publication, such as a collection of articles on a topic or in conference proceedings – provided that original publication in Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work is acknowledged.
This agreement has no effect on any pre-publication versions or elements, which remain entirely yours, and to which we claim no right.
Reviewers hold copyright in their own comments and should not be further copied in any way without their permission.
The copyright of others
If your article includes the copyright material of others (e.g. graphs, diagrams etc.), you confirm that your use either:
- falls within the limits of fair dealing for the purposes of criticism and review or fair use; OR
- that you have gained permission from the rights holder for publication in an open access journal.