Dynamic Diaspora: Women and Immigration

Part: 9

Recession Shrinks Safety Net for Immigrant Women

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A recession does not create abusive behavior, but counselors in Massachusetts who specialize in serving immigrant women say it aggravates the problem at all levels. Meanwhile, budget cuts are shrinking available services. The second of two stories.

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At the same time, the number of qualified attorneys and advocates has been reduced by half, said Hisham A. Leil, an attorney with the group, which is based in Springfield, Mass. "Our funding has gone down this year alone by a million dollars."

The Association of Haitian Women in Boston once had four advocates, but now there is just one, said Carmelle Bonhometre, domestic violence program director at the organization.

The economic downturn has led to an increase in the intensity and rate of domestic violence, she said. Now more people in the Haitian community know about the organization and each day more women come in with tales of pain and abuse. As funding shrinks, however, there is less help available. Interns pitch in, she said, but it is never enough.

As a result, along with outreach projects, an after-school program for the victims' children and English language and Creole literacy classes were truncated. "It is not a pretty picture and it is getting worse every single day," Bonhometre said.

Emergency shelters are packed, posing an additional barrier for immigrant women, Woldeguiorguis said. Victims are worried: "Is someone in that program going to speak my language, going to understand my cultural needs?" she said.

Often victims are angst-ridden that their community will come to know that they had to flee their homes.

"The hurdles that refugee and immigrant women have to go through to reach safety, liberty, dignity are so much greater than they are for non-immigrant women," Woldeguiorguis said.

Bijoyeta Das is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Boston.

Women's eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at editors@womensenews.org.



For more information:

Immigrant Survivors of Abuse Seek Freedom

Part 2: Domestic Violence Among Refugee and Immigrant Women

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Domestic Violence

Immigrant Survivors of Abuse Seek Freedom

Domestic Violence

Recession Fuels Dating Violence, Curbs Prevention


Series Overview

Dynamic Diaspora: Women and Immigration

Part: 12

Few Care for the Undocumented With Breast Cancer

Part: 11

Nebraska Prenatal Bill Stirs Fight Over Immigration

Part: 10

Visas Out of Hell: Women Need to Know They Exist

Part: 9

Deportation of Mothers in Iowa Tests Local Charity

Part: 8

Women's ESL Dominance Tied to Job Demands

Part: 7

For Street Vendor, Another Holiday in Shadows

Part: 6

Arrested Iowa Meat Packers Live in Legal Limbo

Part: 5

Battered Immigrants in Arizona Find Few Havens

Part: 4

Recession Shrinks Safety Net for Immigrant Women

Part: 3

Immigrant Survivors of Abuse Seek Freedom

Part: 2

U Visas Speed Up for Immigrants Who Flee Abuse

Part: 1

U Visa Recipients Look for Better Enforcement