SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

War violence and domestic violence: Understanding the relationship and exploring linkages with forced migration and religious beliefs


Date: 25 February 2021Time: 11:00 AM

Finishes: 25 February 2021Time: 12:00 PM

Venue: Room: Online event

Type of Event: Webinar

According to the Statista Research Department, in 2019 there were 158 violent crises, 71 disputes, 23 limited wars and 15 wars in the world. In November 2020, a new conflict erupted in Tigray region, northern Ethiopia, the main sites of project dldl/ድልድል, which works to support the development of religio-culturally sensitive approaches to addressing domestic violence in rural Ethiopian Orthodox communities. The eruption of the war raised an urgent need to pay attention to violence experienced in political conflict and war trauma, along the associated implications for domestic life and family relations in conflict-affected communities. This webinar will present preliminary results from an on-going scoping literature review that was initialised since the war outbreak to identify the evidence on the relationship between political violence and domestic violence, with a particular interest in identifying intersections with religious parameters where these have been reported.

Political violence is often marked by extensive sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), torture, forced conscription or recruitment to fight, forced displacements, migration crises, and emergencies such as hunger, all of which affect the individual mentally, physically and materially, and also alter personal relationships with others and subsequently affecting entire communities. The effects of political violence may be conceptualised as continuous, adding to structural, communal and domestic forms of violence and amplifying the overall detrimental effects and intergenerational consequences of violence. The second part of the webinar will explore SGBV in forced migration, as long-term consequences of political violence, proposing a continuum of vulnerabilities across the forced migrant journeys and discussing complex intersections with religious parameters.   

The webinar aims to inform current humanitarian efforts to support forcefully displaced populations in Tigray. The webinar can also benefit practitioners working in other conflict and displacement contexts. Humanitarian responses to SGBV must consider how political violence intersects with structural, normative and psychological parameters and seek to support affected groups in ways that can prevent further abuse in domestic and communal life post displacement.  

The relationship between political violence and domestic violence: Some preliminary results from a scoping literature review

Dr Romina Istratii (SOAS, UK) on behalf of project dldl/ድልድል

While the relationship between political violence and domestic violence received limited attention historically, this has changed in recent decades and new evidence has emerged that suggests direct associations between exposure to political violence and an increased likelihood of victims/survivors and perpetrators experiencing/resorting to violence in the domestic sphere. Reviewing close to 100 studies suggests a multi-dimensional mechanism through which political violence can affect rates of domestic violence, such as through mental health trauma affecting victims/survivors, direct effects on the behaviour of soldiers and veterans, or the breakdown of structures and support systems that would otherwise be available to victims of domestic violence in peace times. Religious parameters have received minimal attention in the existing scholarship, and should be better integrated when appraising alleviation strategies in conflict/post-conflict contexts and displaced populations.

Dr Romina Istratii is UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the School of History, Religions and Philosophies at SOAS University of London. She is Principal Investigator of the UKRI-funded project “Bridging religious studies, gender & development and public health to address domestic violence: A novel approach for Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK” and creator of project dldl/ድልድል.

SGBV experiences in forced migration, religion and intersectional vulnerabilities

Sandra Pertek (University of Birmingham, UK)

As political violence intensifies SGBV in conflict and triggers displacement, it is important to account for its long-term impacts. Drawing upon the interviews with 23 Levantine and 15 Sub-Saharan forced migrant survivors of war and SGBV residing in Turkey and Tunisia, this presentation argues that religious factors intersected with multiple inequalities and vulnerabilities, shaping survivors’ experiences. With high levels of structural and interpersonal violence, many war survivors were trapped in abusive and exploitative relationships experiencing an intersectional continuum of SGBV pre-migration, in conflict and transit and refuge. Religious constructs intersected with patriarchal violent disorder in war and limited protection in displacement. Interventions and research might consider accounting for intersecting religious influences to mitigate SGBV effectively. 

Sandra Pertek is a SEREDA Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham and a gender consultant with over 10 years of experience in international development. She advised and worked with governmental and non-governmental organizations on integration of gender, GBV and religion into policy and programmes, and previously served as Senior Policy Adviser on Gender at an international humanitarian agency.

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