Addressing Domestic Violence in Canada and the United States: The Uneasy Co-Habitation of Women and the State

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:58 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Margaret ABRAHAM , Hofstra University
Evangelia TASTSOGLOU , Sociology and Criminology, Saint Mary´s University, Halifax, NS, Canada
For decades, feminist sociologists, activists and the anti-violence movement have drawn attention to how violence against women is closely linked to structural and cultural factors that subordinate women.  We have underscored how gender inequalities intersect with other forms of inequalities, such as, for example, those due to immigration or minority status; how limited rights, lack of equal access to resources and exclusion from participation in decision making processes impede the elimination of violence against women at the micro, meso and macro levels.

In this paper we interrogate the role of the state in addressing domestic violence, especially in the context of immigration in the neo-liberal era.  By doing so we problematize state regulation of gender itself.  Mobilization by the battered women’s movement in the last few decades, increased media attention, and legislation at the state / provincial and federal levels have increased both government awareness and support  to address violence against women. However, activists and researchers have also critiqued the problems with invoking the power of the state in seeking a solution.  Drawing on a multi method approach, we critically examine how  Canada and the U.S approach the problem of domestic violence.  In particular we  focus on how domestic violence has been framed; how  the US and Canada engage at the micro, meso and macro level in ending domestic violence; how  abused women and mainstream and immigrant organizations that address domestic violence encounter the state;  and what are  the most common forms of intervention and outcomes.  Finally, what the gaps in the discourse are as they emerge from the experiences of domestic violence in the US and Canada.