Report of cultural communities awareness campaign
Studies show that immigrant women are especially vulnerable to conjugal violence. This is a result of several factors, including the challenges associated with migration to a new country, adaptation and integration issues, the loss of family support networks, social isolation, lack of language skills, diminished socioeconomic status and, in some cases, a different concept of conjugal violence based on practices from the country of origin. Lack of information on laws, services and awareness of rights all contribute to barriers experienced by immigrant women in accessing social, police or health services as well as shelters for women victims of conjugal violence.
The Shield’s Awareness Campaign On Conjugal Violence: A History
In 1992, the Shield launched a public awareness campaign on conjugal violence using the ethnic media to target the Hellenic community. On the heels of this highly successful campaign, the Shield expanded the program to a larger number of ethnocultural minorities.
In 2002, the Shield developed a second phase to its awareness campaign. In order to address issues of lack of awareness of legal procedures in conjugal violence, the Shield produced a series of audiovisual products (videocassettes and DVD) in collaboration with the Montreal police services (SPVM), the SOS-Conjugal Violence line, and several community partners. The audiovisual materials deal with the legal land police procedures involved in conjugal violence as well as an overview of existing resources.
Objectives and Methodology
The objective of the research was to verify, within the communities where public awareness activities were organized, the effect on perceptions of conjugal violence, applicable police and judicial procedures and awareness of available resource to support immigrants and persons from ethnocultural communities who were involved in the program.
The public awareness sessions were organized in partnership with specific community organizations in the targeted community. The audiovisual materials were viewed in each community in the language of origin, followed by a moderated discussion with the participants.
Even though the results of the study cannot be generalized, they do indicate that immigrants and persons from ethnocultural communities residing in Montreal have a good understanding of the various forms of conjugal violence, of the social and legal procedures involved, and of the main resources available to support individuals facing conjugal violence. We can attest to the fact that awareness campaigns such as those undertaken by the Shield have been well received and accepted in the targeted communities.
Moreover, the degree of satisfaction expressed by participants appears to be directly linked to the fact that the information sessions are delivered in the languages of the participants. Using the language of the ethnocultural community in messages about conjugal violence is therefore a preferred and effective strategy for reaching out to immigrants or members of ethnocultural communities, especially those where little French or English is spoken.
The study results also show that partnering with community organizations and specialized ethnic media in order to develop and diffuse public awareness message is a significant factor in successful outreach to these communities. These results confirm previous studies that show clearly the positive impact of public awareness campaigns when they are conducted in collaboration with the targeted communities themselves and when the information is conveyed in the language of the participants. The results are a reduction in the linguistic and cultural barriers to accessing services.