About the Study
The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) is conducting a community-based national research study on gender-based violence (GBV) in the Canadian South Asian community to understand:
- how GBV has manifested during the pandemic; and
- to gain insight into ways service providers may further improve their services as needed by GBV survivors and how they have already succeeded in doing so.
In partnership with a lead team of South Asian serving agencies, namely Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) – British Columbia, Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) – Calgary, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO), and South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO) – Ontario, CASSA has collected data nationwide to create a deliverable that will be useful for agencies to provide effective support to GBV survivors during the pandemic and to create broader awareness of this silent pandemic.
Gender-based violence was prevalent in many homes and communities in Canada prior to the pandemic. Once the pandemic hit and circumstances in many homes became dire, gender-based violence took a sharp turn for the worse. Fear of a public health crisis and concern for personal health safety, overflow and lockdown of service providers, underemployment, or the working-from-home dynamic further exacerbated the violence and left many victims at the mercy of further empowered abusers.
CASSA has taken the initiative to conduct a national study to gain insight into how GBV has changed in the Canadian South Asian community, especially in the context of the pandemic. The study also seeks to understand the many causes and effects of GBV from the eyes of service providers and survivors themselves, what has been required of these agencies in this crucial time, best practices in successfully supporting their clients, and how they have had to shift their practices in serving clients during the pandemic, alongside the many limitations they were faced with.
Our approach has been to run focus groups in order to speak with GBV survivors in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario – the provinces with the greatest number of South Asian communities. Executive directors of non-profits and field experts have also taken the time to speak with us about service delivery and academic perspectives on current needs, challenges, and successes.
The next phase of the study will entail the dissemination phase, which begins in January 2023. Based on the data collection, the team is currently in the midst of completing an informative toolkit for service providers. An advisory committee will first provide feedback on the toolkit which will then be finalized for dissemination. Training and workshops will also be provided to both South Asian serving agencies as well as mainstream agencies working with GBV clients in order to ensure the needs of South Asian clients are better understood. Finally, we will be launching a national public awareness campaign that will educate and better inform South Asian women, including newcomers, and their supporters on what GBV is, how it can look, and their rights.
The study and dissemination phase will be completed by the end of March 2023.