European Union: Report Examines Ethnic Minority and Romani Women's Experiences With Domestic Violence Services
Thursday, February 3, 2011 1:20 PM

A report examining the experiences of ethnic minority women and Romani women in accessing domestic violence services in four European Union (EU) countries was released in November 2010. The report was funded by the European Commission’s Daphne Programme, and prepared by IMECE Turkish Speaking Women’s Group, London Training and Employment Network, and Regional Social Welfare Resource Centre. The report analyzes violence against women from an international and regional perspective by outlining United Nations and EU laws. In addition, the report examines national policies for four countries, focusing primarily on the United Kingdom (UK) and Hungary, while drawing on secondary research from Poland and Bulgaria. The report sought to identify the EU’s impact on national domestic violence policies, and monitor gaps in services minority women face.
Minority women were interviewed to evaluate their experiences with police, the court, health services, shelters, social services and women’s organizations. The report found that Romani women in Europe faced particular isolation in accessing domestic violence services due to being segregated in “gypsy neighborhoods”, and being avoided by mainstream communities. There are also no services specifically for Romani women who experienced domestic violence.   
The report stressed the importance of adopting an intersectional approach to understand how structural inequalities such as gender, race, class, and immigration status converge in minority women’s experience of domestic violence. In addition, the report warned against associating particular forms of domestic violence (such as forced marriage or "honor" crimes) with minority communities and their culture, thereby producing racist responses that further alienate minorities. Among the recommendations from the report were: the need to develop effective referral services; the need to prioritize support and safety for women rather than solely emphasizing criminal justice responses such as arrests and prosecution; and the need to fund specialist organizations that can address ethnic women’s specific needs. The report included additional recommendations to the EU, the UK and Hungary.