FAMILIES AS A COLLECTIVE ABUSER. A CASE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE AGAINST CHECHEN REFUGEE WOMEN IN POLAND
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Family is usually perceived as a source of support. It includes the closest relatives that we turn to for help when in dire straits. In the case of migration, the family also constitutes an anchor of sorts that you can hold on to when the need arises. It is not always, though, that the family plays a positive role. When its role is extended to affect all the aspects of life, it can be seen as an oppressor. In my article I present different forms of the family’s influence on a woman’s choices among Chechen refugees in Poland. I focus on forced marriages and ‘honour’ killings. This article is based on fifteen individual in-depth, partly structured, biographical interviews with female refugee and asylum seekers women from Chechnya who had experienced violence at the hands of a close person. It is supplemented with 27 individual and 4 group semi-structured in-depth interviews with 35 experts, who work with refugees or women with the history of experienced violence. The results show that in case of Chechen refugees in Poland, the family not only fails to provide protection but also its members are perpetrators of violence against their nearest and dearest. It is because of family’s close ties which affect Chechen women in particular but also because of the weakness of the Polish welfare system. Without constant economic assistance from the members of the family (left in Chechnya or residing in another EU country) it is nearly impossible to support a large family in Poland.
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