Socio-cultural risk factors impacting domestic violence among South Asian immigrant women: A scoping review


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Domestic violence (DV) is a significant concern for the well-being of South Asian (SA) immigrant women. Although, there have been empirical studies that discussed various socio cultural factors related to SA immigrant women’s experience of DV, there have not been any efforts to identify and summarize these socio cultural factors in a single study. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to comprehensively review and synthesize empirical studies that explored the myriad socio cultural risk factors of DV among SA immigrant women in English speaking countries. The five steps recommended by Arskey & O’Malley (2005) on conducting scoping reviews were utilized in this paper. PsycINFO, PubMed, Humanities and Social Science Index, Web of Science, Social Work Abstracts, and Science Direct were searched from the respective data set start dates to March 2017. Database-specific key words, such as DV or intimate partner violence or wife abuse or battered women AND SA immigrant women, were used for each database search. Individual searches with each of the eight SA countries (Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh) in conjunction with DV were also conducted. The inclusion criteria for the studies were: (a) published in peer-reviewed journals; (b) written in English; and (c) related to socio cultural factors and DV among SA immigrant women in English speaking countries (i.e., U.S., Australia, Canada, Western Europe, etc.). Both authors were involved in identification of keywords and in selection of studies. A total of 640 articles using the search terms were found. After a removal of duplicates and a preliminary scrutiny of abstracts, 50 articles remained. Upon reading 50 articles completely, 16 articles were retained.Out of the 16 studies reviewed; eight were qualitative, six were quantitative, and two studies were mixed-methods. The sample sizes in the selected studies ranged from n=8 to n=373, and two-thirds of the studies were conducted in the U.S., with the rest conducted in the U.K., Canada, and Hong Kong. Two-thirds of the studies did not distinguish different national/ ethnic groups within their samples. The socio cultural risk factors for DV experience among SA immigrant women identified in the reviewed studies included lack of social support, low acculturation, patriarchal beliefs, economic control by the husband, traditional gender role attitudes, model minority myth, and stigma about divorce.Lack of differentiation among various national/ethnic groups in reviewed studies resulted in lumping all SA women together, without recognizing any differences that may exist among them. National/ethnic-specific samples or analyses would help distinguish different sociocultural factors salient to each group. More studies conducted outside the U.S. will also add to the diversity of contextual factors related to SA immigrant women’s experience of DV. It would be important for researchers and practitioners to develop DV prevention interventions for SA immigrant women that focus on changing cultural norms around traditional gender role attitudes and stigma attached to divorce. In addition, prevention interventions should target social isolation and lack of social support among SA immigrant women.

Fahs-Beck Scholars

Meet the Scholars

Fahs-Beck Fellows

Meet the Fellows


Our grant programs are changing.


Learn more