A first-of-its-kind study into the lives of Asian women living in Minnesota has revealed shocking figures, showing the scope of the physical, emotional and sexual abuse they can endure.
The report by a working group, which was commissioned to carry out the research by the Minnesota Legislature, sheds light on the levels of abuse within the state's 250,000-strong Asian community. You can read the full study here.
The researchers fell short of getting a truly representative sample as only around 425 Asian women responded to the survey out of the 4,000 it was sent to, with the report noting that language barriers may have prevented many from sending theirs back.
But of those who did respond, 15 percent said they had experienced "intimate partner violence" in their lifetime, and 8 percent in the past year.
Twelve percent meanwhile had suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse by someone other than their partner within their lifetimes, and 5 percent in the past year.
To provide some perspective, a Minnesota Crime Victim Survey found that 5 percent of Minnesotans – both women and men – reported experiencing domestic violence in 2010.
The definition of abuse in the study covers a wide range of physical, sexual, financial and emotional examples, and of those suffering from abuse at the hands of an intimate partner over the past year, the most common form it took was being insulted.
The next two most common complaints were being restricted from making financial decisions, and being the victims of physical violence.
Other common forms of abuse include keeping the women from the family and friends, and having their identification withheld.
Women face barriers, cultural pressures when reporting abuse
The report says that talking about domestic violence is "particularly taboo" in the Asian community, and many of those suffering abuse at the hands of a loved one or someone they know rarely report the violence to authorities, and "even faced barriers to reporting violence to family and friends."
These "barriers" can include the victims being concerned about confidentiality, and negative consequences for themselves or their family.
But it also includes cultural pressures related to the "financial and social power of men, in-laws and cultural norms about women's roles," such as an expectation women should endure violence to maintain and protect their family's reputation.
Among those commenting on the report is Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, who in a press release said: "It is evident that we need to improve awareness and support within Asian communities, but also address these culturally-specific stigmas and other challenges that prevent women from getting help. I encourage leaders in Asian communities, especially those who are men, to lead the effort to address these issues by clearly establishing community standards that have zero tolerance for abuse against women and children."
Members of Minnesota’s Asian community come from more than 40 different countries, with about 80,000 Hmong and about 47,000 Asian Indians comprising the largest groups, the study says.