We know more about the experiences of trauma, despair, and abuse of asylum seekers and refugees than we do of their resilience, strength, and active struggle to survive and succeed. This article explores stories narrated by asylum seekers from Darfur, Sudan, currently residing in Israel, to learn about their forms and sources of strength, resilience, and coping mechanisms. In-depth, semi-structured group interviews were conducted in Hebrew and in English with eight single men, aged between the ages 27 and 38, who had lived in Israel for between four and seven years. The interviews were recorded and transcribed, and the data analyzed by analytic induction and constant comparison strategies. Six factors were identified, from the interviewees’ perspective, as contributing to their resilience: cognitive coping strategies, behavioral coping strategies, the ability to work, the ability to study and educate oneself, the support of family and friends, and social and political activism. This study corroborates existing literature by identifying personal strategies and social support as important to resilience of refugees; however, and unlike other studies, we did not find religion as an important factor from our interviewees’ perspective. We have thus expanded the existing literature by identifying the ability to work and the ability to study as important factors contributing to the resilience of refugees.
Enosh, Guy, Elazar Leshem, and Eli Buchbinder. “Attitudes Toward Domestic Violence and Corporal Punishment Among Former Soviet Union Immigrants in Israel.” Violence Against Women (early view; online first).
The study regards attitudes of Russian immigrants in Israel toward wife abuse and corporal punishment. The sample consisted of 1,028 participants, based on a multistage cluster sampling. The study used a questionnaire related to immigration, acculturation, and attitudinal issues. The findings indicate a dual-causal model, in which corporal punishment attitudes contribute to wife abuse attitudes and vice versa. However, the effect of attitudes supporting corporal punishment was stronger than the effect of wife abuse attitudes, indicating that the attitudinal system as a precursor of violent behavior is already merging the two types of violence.
Mansbach-Kleinfeld, Ivonne, Anneke Ifrah, Alan Apter, and Ilana Farbstein. “Child Sexual Abuse as Reported by Israeli Adolescents: Social and Health Related Correlates.” Child Abuse & Neglect 40 (2015): 68-80.
The objectives of the study were to assess the prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) in a nation-wide representative sample of 14–17 year old Israeli adolescents, and to examine the associations between CSA, socio-demographic correlates and various measures of physical and mental health. The study population consisted of 906 mother–adolescent dyads, belonging to a community based, representative sample of Israeli 14–17 year olds, interviewed in 2004–5. Response rate was 68%. Subjects provided demographic data, and information about CSA, physical symptoms, body image, well-being and use of mental health services. DAWBA was used to obtain information regarding mental disorders and suicidality. SDQ was used to obtain data on bullying. Statistical analyses were conducted using an SPSS-17 complex sample analysis module and multivariate analyses were conducted to assess the associations between CSA and risk factors and social and health related correlates. Findings show that CSA was reported by 3.3% of adolescents. Higher risk of exposure to CSA was found among girls, among adolescents living in a one-parent household and among adolescents with a chronic disability. In multivariate models adjusting for gender, learning disabilities and depression, CSA was associated with suicidal attempts, stomach ache, dizziness, sleep problems, well being at home and bullying behaviors. No association was found with suicidal ideation or other physical symptoms. Our findings confirm that the associations between CSA and different outcomes vary depending on the socio-psychological context, and underline the importance of addressing the complexity of variables associated with CSA.
Utilizing qualitative semi-structured interviews, this paper examines the resistant strategies and struggles of eight severely abused and deprived Mizrahi women who had been incarcerated for crimes and misdemeanors. A Foucauldian perspective reveals that for these women, crime, drugs, and prostitution were expressions of resistance against extreme states of domination and abuse. Through crime and deviance, these women struggled against socioeconomic deprivation, physical, and sexual abuse and other forms of domination and injustice perpetrated by the family and criminal justice system. In crime, drugs, and prostitution, these women managed to express their will and autonomy. These women’s testimonies may shock and scandalize—yet they break through oppressive norms and traditions that had, so far, been taken for granted. I conclude that poor Mizrahi women’s deviant behaviors must be regarded as avant-garde protests pointing to forward social and normative reforms that are to be incorporated into any model of change addressing the plight of marginalized women.
Hawwa: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World