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South Asian women's experience of abuse by female affinal kin: a critique of mainstream conceptualisations of 'domestic abuse'

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Mainstream conceptualisations of domestic abuse that focus on an intimate relationship within a nuclear household do not reflect the experiences of abuse of many women, and this is particularly evident when exploring South Asian women's experiences of family abuse. Drawing on the experiences of 11 Pakistani Muslim women interviewed for my doctoral research, I elucidate the role of the mother-in-law in instigating and perpetrating abuse against daughters-in-law. The sociocultural norms in extended family households, such as a preference for sons and maintaining a joint virilocal household, can cause tensions and hostility between mothers- and daughters-in-law. These tendencies have potential for violence that is best understood as everyday practices of power and control. I argue that policy and practice, and research, must incorporate a deeper understanding of the family as a potential source of abuse, and particularly the role of female affinal kin, if women are to be protected from such abuse.
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Keywords: AFFINAL KIN; DOMESTIC ABUSE; FAMILY ABUSE; MOTHER-IN-LAW ABUSE; SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 November 2017

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