GENDER VIOLENCE AGAINST LATIN AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS

Immigrant women are extremely vulnerable to interpersonal and structural violence. The intersection of their gender, sexuality, nationality, immigration status, race, ethnicity, and social class influences the way in which violence is inflicted and endured and affects the availability of resources for them to escape and overcome abusive relationships. Feminists of color and advocates for battered immigrants’ rights in the United States have been working to elaborate strategies and laws that better address the needs of battered immigrants.  To some extent, their efforts have been fruitful: the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is the main piece of legislation addressing gender violence for all survivors, includes regulations for special groups, such as battered immigrants. However, serious barriers continue to prevent underprivileged immigrants from accessing justice as survivors of gender violence. 

 

I developed research on this issue for ten years - beginning with my Sociology Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin and leading to several publications, where I uncover how formal and informal obstacles stand in the way of immigrant survivors' path to end their abusive relationships and secure their residency in the U.S.  I also study how individual and collective efforts of immigrants, advocates and activists result in resisting and changing but sometimes also maintaining oppressive practices and structures (2010a, 2010b). 

 

In my publications, I look into the relevance and challenges of applying an activist research approach to working on this issue (2010a, 2011, 2014).  Inspired in that framework, I have maintained an alert stance on the developments regarding gender violence against immigrants. In reaction to the 2008 financial crisis, I expanded my research to explore how shifting political and economic conditions that result in more or less welcoming contexts for immigrants affect their victimization as well as advocates' and activists' service and political strategies (2015).  Furthermore, I did a  reflection on how literature can help in promoting a feminist, anti-gender violence agenda, comparing testimonies of Latina and Argentinean survivors of gender violence (2012).  More recently, with the growth of the #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #NiUnaMenos, Sanctuary and other movements worldwide, I have tuned up my attention to the ways in which battered immigrant women's voices and demands are raised and heard.  

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