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How religion influences attitudes towards domestic violence

19 7 0

WE learned this month that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged AU$10 million in the federal budget for couples counselling and mediation for families impacted by domestic violence.

But the proposed policy runs counter to expert advice and evidence, which indicates that encouraging women to stay in relationships with an abuser exposes them to higher risk of harm. The announcement was swiftly condemned by family and domestic violence (FDV) advocates.

Commentators have noted that an emphasis on mediation and the maintenance of relationships, even if they are abusive, is common within many religious and faith communities. Faith and religion are well recognised as having a powerful influence on attitudes, beliefs and social norms related to FDV, but empirical academic research on the subject remains scarce.

We recently conducted a study with leaders and community members from various faiths to better understand the capacity of faith communities to address and prevent FDV. Our initial findings indicate that while FDV is a common problem in faith communities, it remains poorly understood.

Women experiencing FDV can face barriers to seeking appropriate help. This is often due to attitudes and practices that deny or minimise experiences of FDV, and encourage women to stay in relationships with their abusers.

SEE ALSO: How domestic violence affects women’s mental health

Family and domestic violence is a taboo topic

We conducted interviews and focus groups with Anglican, Evangelical and Christian (including Catholic), Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish leaders and community members. We also spoke with key people who had experience working in FDV with faith leaders and faith communities.

In our........

© Asian Correspondent