Victims of Domestic Violence

Sexual violence can take many forms in various immigrant communities, including but not limited to sexual assault, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation. The following resources address some of the sexual violence issues facing diverse immigrant communities.

Over the past two decades, over twenty-five community-based organizations have emerged to provide supportive services to South Asian women experiencing domestic violence. In the last decade, several critical developments have impacted the work of these organizations. Violence against women has been recognized and institutionalized as a law enforcement priority in the U.S while the criminalization of immigrants has become further entrenched in U.S. policy and social attitudes. This paper is concerned with the logics through which the state manages immigrant populations. By creating categories of exception for a narrow subset of battered immigrant women, the state reveals and enacts its investment in the production of good self-reliant neoliberal consumer/worker/citizens who are recuperated from the unruliness of the larger immigrant population. It is also concerned with the compatibility of South Asian women’s organizations’ work, predicated upon frameworks that highlight the cultural-specificity of domestic violence in South Asian communities, with these logics of exception. This attention to culture, along with an emphasis on state violence as a tool for interpersonal abuse, potentially obscures structural violence that impacts the everyday lives of immigrant women experiencing domestic violence. This further fractures the constituency of South Asian immigrant women by privileging good victim-subjects, who can be folded into the larger heteronormative citizenry, at the expense of those who are deemed unmanageable. This paper will examine these dynamics and further encourage social change models that envision transformation by centralizing the marginalized subsets of South Asian immigrant communities.