Intimate partner abuse among Rohingya in Malaysia: assessing stressors, mental health, social norms and help-seeking to inform interventions
Courtney Welton-Mitchell1, Noor Arifah Bujang2, Hasnah Hussin3, Sharifah Husein4, Fajar Santoadi5, Leah Emily James6
1 PhD, Institute of Behavioral Science, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, USA
2 MA, Tenaganita, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3 Tenaganita, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
4 Tenaganita, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Rohingya Women’s Development Network, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
5 MSc, Tenaganita, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
6 PhD, Institute of Behavioral, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA; Heartland Alliance International, USA
Institute of Behavioral Science, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado and Colorado School of Public Health, Boulder
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Intimate partner abuse (IPA) is one of the most common forms of gender-based violence worldwide. Risk for IPA can increase during periods of displacement, especially for refugees and other forced migrants. The current study explores patterns of IPA, its correlates and help-seeking behaviours among Rohingya refugees in Malaysia − a group that is particularly marginalised and vulnerable, being stateless and often unable to legally work or access various services. As part of a larger study, a multinational team collected information about IPA among displaced Rohingya in Malaysia through structured household interviews and focus groups, including women, men, community leaders and service providers (n = 75). Results indicated high rates of IPA. Respondents also reported numerous chronic stressors and suggested links between stressors, mental health and IPA. Social norms emphasising the acceptability of IPA and discouraging help-seeking were also common. These data have broad implications, including for development of a ‘healthy relationships’ intervention integrating social norms and mental health approaches to address IPA in Rohingya communities, with potential for scale-up within Malaysia and elsewhere.
Key implications for practice
- Practitioners will better understand intimate partner abuse among Rohingya communities, including links with historical and chronic stressors, social norms and mental health.
- Practitioners will better understand preferred sources of help-seeking and barriers to help-seeking for intimate partner abuse among Rohingya communities.
- Practitioners will better understand how to develop interventions for intimate partner abuse, including healthy relationship workshops and public health messaging campaigns based on social norms.