Exploring gender norms, agency and intimate partner violence among displaced Colombian women: A qualitative assessment

Michelle E Hynes, Claire E Sterk, Monique Hennink, Shilpa Patel, Lara DePadilla, Kathryn M Yount
Global Public Health 2016, 11 (1-2): 17-33
Women displaced by conflict are often exposed to many factors associated with a risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) such as high levels of community violence and the breakdown of social support systems. Previous research found that Colombian women perceived IPV to increase after displacement. This study explored how the experience of displacement altered gendered roles in ways that influenced the risk of IPV. Thirty-three qualitative interviews were conducted with displaced partnered Colombian women. Women disclosed that couples often held patriarchal gender norms; however, the roles of each partner necessitated by conditions of displacement were often in conflict with these norms. Men's underemployment and women's employment outside the home were viewed as gender transgressive within some partnerships and increased relationship conflict. Economic resources intended to empower displaced women, notably women's earnings and home ownership, had unintended negative consequences for women's agency. These consequences included a corresponding decrease in partner financial contributions and reduced mobility. Women's ability to obtain support or leave violent relationships was hindered by interpersonal, social and structural barriers. For women to have agency to leave violent relationships, power relationships at all levels from the interpersonal to societal must be recognised and addressed.

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