The gender-based toolkit is the result of a national community-based research study on gender-based violence (GBV) in the Canadian South Asian community. It has been led by the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) in collaboration with the following partners: the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) and the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO) in Ontario, the Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) Calgary in Alberta, and the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) in British Columbia. The study was graciously funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada through the Canadian Women’s Foundation in order to understand the very concerning spike in GBV during the pandemic. This study includes the stories of over 150 Canadian South Asian GBV survivors, as well as several GBV South Asian serving service providers, their Executive Directors, frontline experts, and academics. When looking at GBV in a Canadian context, we identified a gap in the general understanding of how newcomers and racialized communities experience nuanced forms of oppression and violence, and how the systems in place to protect them during the pandemic further exacerbated an already pervasive problem. Additionally, we learned the extent to which a lack of knowledge of Canadian law can disempower already vulnerable populations.
The COVID-19 pandemic created layers of barriers to the ways in which survivors could seek support. According to a recent study, South Asians have reported the poorest levels of mental health during the pandemic than those who belong to populations of other visible minorities in Canada. In the midst of a global crisis where there was a dire need for increased mental health support, marginalized communities experiencing GBV faced unforeseen challenges that this study hopes to address. For agencies serving survivors, due to pandemic restrictions, service providers were forced to make changes in their protocol and operation overnight, having to adjust with oftentimes precarious funding. Based on our data collection and feedback, we created a toolkit that explores how examining GBV has changed during the pandemic, what supports have been required by survivors, and how to further improve services. We have included a summary of recommendations at the end of each section for service providers and compiled all of the recommendations at the end of the toolkit. The limitation of this particular study is the demographic we researched is solely women and not GBV survivors who identify as men or gender diverse folks, nor youth and children. Through compiling lived experiences in a data1 3 PARTNERS driven study, we hope this toolkit can act as a resource for individuals and service providers to access information on the impacts of GBV, particularly in the South Asian context in Canada. We want to note that hyperlinks to the definitions section as well as helpful websites are all in orange in this toolkit. The content produced was not influenced by any government entities. All information included was at the discretion of CASSA and partner organizations across the country. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partner agencies and all community members who aided in providing feedback, consultations, and support. During our dissemination phase in 2023, CASSA and its partners will be conducting training workshops with service providers across the country, and launching a national public education campaign.
To learn more and access the toolkit please visit our website