Suffering in silence: a Canadian-Somali case study
The Horn of Africa, and specifically Somalia, is now being recognized as one of the worst places for women to live (Abdi, C. M. (2005). In limbo: Dependency, insecurity and identity amongst Somali refugees in Dadaab camps, Refuge: Canada's Periodical on Refugees, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 6-14; The Guardian (2011). Somali refugees abandon babies at Dadaab camp, The Guardian. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/14/somalia-refugees-abandon-babies-dadaab; The Guardian (2011) Afghanistan worst place in the world for women, but India in top five. The Guardian. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/15/worst-place-women-afghanistan-india). Somali women refugees, particularly those living in the South of Somalia, face heightened possibility of rape and sexual humiliation, and are subject to ever-changing religious restrictions and punishments (Abdi, C. M. (2005). In limbo: Dependency, insecurity and identity amongst Somali refugees in Dadaab camps, Refuge: Canada's Periodical on Refugees, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 6-14; The New York Times, 2011). Some of the latest religious restrictions are that bras are forbidden and women must purchase specific clothing from stores owned by religious leaders. Also, pregnancy out of wedlock, which includes pregnancy as a result of rape, is forbidden and punishable by stoning (BBC (2009, November). Somali woman stoned for adultery. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8366197.stm). A recent 2011 Sharia law bans unrelated men and women from shaking hands, walking or talking together in public. The consequence of disobeying is punishment by public flogging (BBC (2011, January). Somalia's al-Shabab bans mixed-sex handshake. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12138627). After settling in Canada, these past traumas intersect with the resettlement challenges faced by Somali women refugees. This often produces health-related issues that women struggle to overcome - within a monocultural medical system that is not always responsive to their needs (Danso, 2002; Galabuzi, G. E. (2002, November). Social exclusion. A paper and presentation given at The Social Determinants of Health across the Life-Span Conference, Toronto, ON; Bokore, 2009). This paper explores the connections between trauma and resettlement in the lives of Somali-Canadian women, and how this can in turn effect the next generation via 'intergenerational trauma'. Through personal experience, community-based conversations and existent trauma research, I will then outline how social workers can respond to this unique nexus of needs.
|Keywords||barriers to resettlement in Canada, social work practice, Somali women refugees, the impacts of prolonged trauma|
|Journal||Journal of Social Work Practice|
Bokore, N. (2013). Suffering in silence: a Canadian-Somali case study. Journal of Social Work Practice, 27(1), 95–113. doi:10.1080/02650533.2012.682979