Category Archives: Uncategorized

NADIE SE METE ENTRE PROBLEMAS MATRIMONIALES

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NADIE SE METE ENTRE PROBLEMAS MATRIMONIALES

“Nadie se mete entre problemas matrimoniales”

La Violencia Domestica en la Republica Dominicana

Dra. Vilma Caban-Vazquez

¿Cuántas veces has escuchado a un miembro de la familia aconsejan que es mejor no involucrarse entre un hombre y su esposa?  Desafortunadamente, para muchas mujeres maltratadas en la República Dominicana, este tipo de consejo está perpetuando el círculo vicioso de la violencia doméstica y ahora el patrón está envuelto en silencio con mas poder.

ESTADÍSTICAS DE VIOLENCIA DOMÉSTICA:

La violencia doméstica existe para la mujer dominicana en todos los estratos económicos. El Centro de Estudios Sociales y Demográficos informó que es muy probable que una de cada tres mujeres dominicanas que usted conoce es en realidad una víctima de alguna forma de violencia doméstica.  Aunque este país es conocido como una de las mecas de los mejores resorts vacacionales del mundo, tenemos que saber que la República Dominicana está lidiando con un problema que no es tan públicamente gloriosa y refinada. Detrás de la fachada de hermosas playas y exquisitos alojamientos rurales, muchas de las flores preciosas (las mujeres) de este país se enfrentan a una existencia violenta y brutal. La verdad es que muchas de las mujeres dominicanas que sirven o  visitan estos resorts vacacionales son de hecho víctimas de ataques violentos por parte de sus maridos.

Como investigadora Latina examinado la verdad horrible detrás la realidad de la violencia doméstica en la República Dominicana, me horrorizó al ver lo poco que se hace para erradicar esta realidad brutal. Un estudio realizado por la Asociación de Derechos de la Mujer en el Desarrollo confirmó que muchas mujeres dominicanas se enfrentan a esta batalla solas y también suelen ser víctimas dos veces ~por sus agresores y por el sistema judicial creado para protegerlas. En 2011, los datos del Ministerio de Asuntos de la Mujer (Roxanna Reyes) confirmo que cada 1-2 días una mujer era asesinada en un acto de violencia doméstica. En los últimos dos años, más de 60,000 denuncias anuales de violencia contra las mujeres son denunciados. Sin embargo, aproximadamente el 4% de los cargos, se crió en contra de los perpetradores, asistió a juicios legales. Recientemente, las estadísticas oficiales de la Oficina de la capital Santo Domingo Fiscalía confirmo que el nivel alarmante de violencia doméstica continúa. En los últimos 6 meses, esta provincia tenía 133 mujeres asesinadas por sus ex-parejas. Un estudio de la promoción, la Ruta Crítica de las Dominicanas Mujeres Sobrevivientes de Violencia de Género encargado por las organizaciones locales de defensa de las mujeres dominicanas, informó que trágicamente muchas de las víctimas que perdieron la vida fueron también víctimas de una sistema legal (que no contaban con un personal judicial atento y equipados para hacer frente con las problemas complejas de la violencia doméstica).

En el siglo 21 … ¿Cómo es esto posible? La violencia doméstica en la República Dominicana no fue reconocida oficialmente hasta el enero de 1997 bajo la nueva ley de derechos humanos 24-97. Hasta este punto, la violencia doméstica no sólo fue tolerada pero también considerado legal. La realidad de la violencia doméstica en la República Dominicana fue sacada a la luz por organizaciones como PROFAMILIA (Asociación Dominicana Pro-Bienestar de la Familia) y La Oficina Para La Promoción de Mujeres, con la ayuda del Fondo de las Naciones Unidas. Es difícil creer que 15 años después, los gritos y esfuerzos de las organizaciones de derechos humanos han caído en oídos sordos. Una investigación realizada por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos revelo que a pesar de que la Ley 24-97 fue pensado para promover mayores avances en la protección de los derechos de las mujeres en este país, los jueces dominicanos lamentablemente muchos no aplican y hacen cumplir la ley. Una comisión investigó la base de conocimientos de muchos jueces y representantes del Ministerio Público y la verdad es que muchos jueces y representantes simplemente desconocen el contenido de esta ley de 15 años. ¿Cómo es esto posible? Tal vez la verdad fea puede ser… que muchos de los jueces y contrapartes masculinos optan no cumplir con la aplicación de la ley 24-97.

ENTENDER LA VIOLENCIA DOMÉSTICA:

El objetivo final de la violencia doméstica o el abuso es ganar y mantener el control de la víctima. El miedo es la garra paralizante que mantiene a muchas víctimas en una relación abusiva. Lamentablemente muchas personas que se enteran de un ejemplo particular o caso trágico no pueden creer por qué la mujer nunca se liberó de la situación abusiva. Como comunidad es necesario darse cuenta y reconocer las señales  críticos y la escalada de una relación abusiva. Esto puede servir como un paso crucial para romper el ciclo y el silencio de la violencia doméstica. Es importante entender que hay muchos tipos de violencia doméstica o abuso conyugal. Basado en una encuesta elaborada por la Red Nacional Contra la Violencia Doméstica (en los Estados Unidos) si su respuesta es “Sí” a muchas de las preguntas siguientes, es muy probable que usted o alguien que usted conoce está en una relación abusiva.

¿Usted …

-A menudo siente miedo de tu pareja?

-Evitar ciertas conversaciones o temas por miedo a enojar su pareja?

-A menudo siente que su pareja piensa que tu no puedes hacer nada correcto?

-Esta de acuerdo que a veces se merece ser maltratada por su pareja?

-Se pregunta si eres la única que es loca en su relación.

-Siente emocionalmente entumecida o indefensa en sus circunstancias?

Muchas de las preguntas mencionadas se centran en el tema del abuso emocional. Las víctimas se sienten aisladas, intimidadas y controladas por su cónyuge / pareja. Es importante que las víctimas se den cuenta que, finalmente, el abusador se intensificará en el uso de sus tácticas de control. Finalmente, el abusador va a recurrir su amenazas físicas o repercusiones abusivas para que la mujer haga lo que el quiere.

PERFIL DE UN ABUSADOR:

Un abusador de violencia doméstica se comporta de una forma de control, no porque él no es capaz de “controlar” a sí mismo. De hecho, el abusador es muy estratégico sobre sus acciones y toma decisiones muy claras y con el fin de controlar su cónyuge o pareja. Él toma decisiones cuidadosas acerca de cuándo y dónde va a abusar de su pareja. En público, el parecer como el esposo perfecto, pero muchas veces ataca cuando no hay testigos. Por otra parte, un abusador es capaz de “detener” a sus formas abusivas cuando le beneficia. Si usted sospecha que alguien es un abusador, responda las siguientes preguntas.

¿Su pareja …

-Consistentemente ignorar sus opiniones y los pone abajo?

– Te humilla o grita?

-La trata tan mal que usted se avergüenza delante de su familia o amistades?

-La culpa por hacerlo comportar de una manera abusivo?

-Constantemente le critica y hace comentarios degradantes sobre ti?

-Actúa muy celoso y posesivo?

-Trata de controlar dónde vas?

-Trata de controlar quién ve?

-Trata de controlar lo que haces?

-Evita que usted vea a sus amigos o familiares?

-Limita el acceso directo al dinero?

-Limita el acceso a un teléfono?

-Constantemente hace llamadas numerosas durante el día?

-Revisa constantemente y / o abrir el correo?

-Revisa constantemente su correo electrónico o quiere que le dé su código para la cuenta de correo electrónico?

-Considera que eres su propiedad o su objeto sexual?

-Tener un mal humor o es impredecible?

-La pone en daño o amenaza que la va matar?

-Amenaza con suicidarse si lo dejas?

-Amenaza con quitarle a los niños si usted trata de salir?

-Amenaza con hacerle daño a sus hijos si usted trata de salir?

-Amenaza con hacerle daño a otros amigos o miembros de su familia si usted trata de salir?

-Destruye sus pertenencias/objetos personales?

COSAS A TENER EN CUENTA …

La dinámica de la violencia doméstica es muy complicada. Tal la razón porque explica por qué muchas de las víctimas luchan para liberarse de este patrón violento. Muchas mujeres no se sienten valientes o equipadas para examinar las opciones potenciales que pueden utilizar para liberarse del abuso. Se han convertido emocionalmente, físicamente y espiritualmente débil. Recuérdense que el agresor ha utilizado una variedad de vicios para dominar la víctima y mantenerla bajo su control.

Mujeres dominicanas no están solas. La realidad es que hay muchas hermanas latinas que están sufriendo el mismo fenómeno de la violencia doméstica. Amnistía Internacional (2012) informó que en Latino América hay un aumento del 20% en el número de mujeres asesinadas por sus parejas o ex-parejas.

La triste realidad es que las mujeres no son las únicas víctimas. Cuando los niños son testigos del abuso violento de sus madres, hay una gran posibilidad de que ellos se convierten en víctimas o abusadores en su edad adulta. Es más probable que el ciclo de la violencia doméstica continúe.

Se necesita una comunidad valiente y solidaria que diga “NO MÁS” y mantener la autonomía que rompe el silencio y del ciclo. Afortunadamente, hay más organizaciones dominicanas que están abordando este tema y hay una creciente red listo para servir a la comunidad dominicana. Para obtener más información sobre estas organizaciones, visite lo siguiente: http://santodomingo.usembassy.gov/victims_of_crime-e.html

Juntos con cada paso podemos romper el silencio y el ciclo que ha mantenido tantas mujeres y niños oprimidos por sus abusadores.

“Nadie se mete entre problemas matrimoniales”

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“Nadie se mete entre problemas matrimoniales”

“Nadie se mete entre problemas matrimoniales”

La Violencia Domestica en la Republica Dominicana

Dra. Vilma Caban-Vazquez

How many times have you heard a friend or family member advise that it is best not to get involved between a man and his woman?  Unfortunately, for many battered women in the Dominican Republic, this hands-off approach is perpetuating the vicious cycle of domestic violence that is shrouded in silence and secrecy.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS:

Domestic violence exists for Dominican women across all economic strata. El Centro de Estudios Sociales y Demográficos reported that one in every three women you know in the Dominican Republic are victims of some form of domestic violence. Although this country is known as one of the finest vacation resort meccas of the world, the Dominican Republic is grappling with an issue that is not so publicly glorious and refined. Behind the façade of gorgeous beaches and exquisite holiday accommodations, many of this country’s precious flowers face a violent and brutal existence. The truth is that many of the women who serve as well as visit these fine resorts are indeed victims of violent attacks by manipulative and controlling husbands and partners.

As this Latina researcher examined the ugly truth behind the reality of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic, I was horrified to see how little is done to eradicate this brutal reality.  A study by the Association of Women’s Rights in Development confirmed that many Dominican women face this lonely battle and are often victimized twice, by their abusers and by the judicial system created to protect them. In 2011, data from the Prosecutor for Woman Affairs (Roxanna Reyes) confirms that every 1-2 days a woman is killed in an act of domestic violence. Within the last two years, over 60,000 annual complaints of violence against women are reported. However, approximately only 4% of the charges, brought up against the perpetrators, attended legal trials. Recently, official statistics from the capital’s Santo Domingo Public Prosecutor’s Office confirms that the alarming level of domestic violence continues.  In the past 6 months, this province had 133 women killed by their former partners. An advocacy study, Critical Path of Dominican Women Survivors of Gender Violence commissioned by local Dominican women advocacy organizations, reported that tragically many of the victims that lost their lives were also victims of a legal system that did not have a responsive judicial staff equipped to deal with the complex issues of domestic violence.

In the 21st Century…how is this possible? If you can believe it, domestic violence in the Dominican Republic was not officially recognized until January 1997 under the new human rights law 24-97. Until this point, domestic violence was not only tolerated…it was considered legal. The reality of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic was brought to light by organizations such as PROFAMILIA (Asociación Dominicana Pro-Bienestar de la Familia) y La Oficina para la Promoción de Mujeres with the help of the United Nations Fund. It is difficult to believe that 15 years later, the efforts of human rights organizations have fallen on deaf ears.  An investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reveals that even though the 24-97 law was intended to promote major advances in the protection of women’s rights in this nation, regrettably many Dominican judges do not apply and enforce the law. A commission investigated the knowledge base of many judges and Public Ministry representatives and they were simply unaware of the extensive content of this 15 year-old law. How is this possible? Perhaps the ugly truth may be that many of the male judges and law enforcement counterparts elect not to enforce it.

UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

The ultimate goal of domestic violence or abuse is to gain and maintain control of the victim. Fear is the paralyzing grip that keeps many victims in an abusive relationship. Regrettably many people who hear about a particular example or tragic case can’t believe why the woman never broke free from the abusive situation.  As a community, noticing and acknowledging the critical and escalating signs of an abusive relationship can serve as the crucial step in breaking the cycle and silence of domestic violence. It is important to understand that there are many forms of domestic abuse or spousal abuse. Based on a survey developed by the United States National Domestic Violence Network, if you answer “Yes” to many of the questions below, it is highly probable that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Do you…

  • Often feel afraid of your partner?
  • Avoid certain conversations or topics for fear of making your partner angry?
  • Often feel that according to your partner you can’t do anything correct?
  • Agree that sometimes you deserve to be mistreated by your partner?
  • Wonder if you are the only one who is crazy in your relationship.
  • Feel emotionally numb or helpless in your circumstances?

Many of the aforementioned questions focus on the issue of emotional abuse. Many victims feel isolated, intimidated, and controlled by their spouse/partner. It is important for victims of domestic abuse to understand that ultimately the abuser will escalate in his abusive tactics and ultimately resort to physical threats or other abusive repercussions to make the abused woman do what he wants.

PROFILE OF AN ABUSER:

A domestic violence abuser behaves in a controlling manner, not because he is not able to “control” himself.  In fact, the abuser is very strategic about his actions and makes very clear and controlling decisions in order to control his spouse or partner. He makes careful choices about when and where he will abuse his partner.  In public, they may seem like the perfect spouse, but often times will lash out when they can’t be seen. Moreover, an abuser is capable of “stopping” their abusive ways when it benefits him. If you suspect that someone you know is an abuser, answer the following questions. Does your partner…

  • Consistently ignore your opinions and puts them down?
  • Humiliate or yell at you?
  • Treat you so poorly that you are embarrassed that your family and friends will see?
  • Blame you for making them behave in an abusive way?
  • Constantly criticize you and makes degrading remarks about you?
  • Act very jealous and possessive?
  • Try to control where you go?
  • Try to control who you see?
  • Try to control what you do?
  • Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • Limit your direct access to money?
  • Limit your access to a phone?
  • Constantly check up on you with numerous calls throughout the day?
  • Constantly check and/or open your mail?
  • Constantly check your email or wants you to give him your email passwords?
  • View you as his property or sexual object?
  • Have a bad or unpredicatable temper?
  • Harm you and threatens to hurt or kill you?
  • Threaten to kill himself if you leave him?
  • Threaten to take your children away if you try to leave?
  • Threaten to hurt your children if you try to leave?
  • Threaten to hurt other friends or family members if you try to leave?
  • Destroy your personal belongings?

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND…

The dynamics of domestic violence are very complicated and it helps to explain why victims struggle to break free from this violent pattern. Many women do not feel equipped or brave enough to examine potential options that can free them from the abuse.  They have become emotionally, physically, and spiritually weak.  Remember that the abuser has used a litany of vices to pin the victim and maintain her under his control.

Dominican women are not alone.  The reality is that there are many Latina sisters who are suffering the same phenomena of domestic violence.  Amnesty International (2012) reported that in Latin America, there is a 20% increase in the number of women killed by their partners or former partners. The sad truth is that women are not the only victims.  When children witness the violent abuse of their mothers, there is a strong chance that they will either become victims or abusers in their adulthood. The cycle of domestic violence is more likely to continue.  It takes a brave and supportive community to say “NO MORE” and sustain empowerment that breaks the silence and the cycle. Thankfully, more Dominican organizations are addressing this issue and there is a growing network ready to serve the Dominican community.  For more information about these organizations, visit the following website http://santodomingo.usembassy.gov/victims_of_crime-e.html

Together, one step at a time, we can break the silence and the cycle that have kept so many women and children oppressed by their abusers.

***EXCERPT FOR PUBLICATION***

HORTENSIAS MAGAZINE: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

PICTURE CAPTION: Below are several brave domestic violence victims who participated in a focus group study examining domestic violence in Bonao, Dominican Republic. Dr. Caban-Vazquez’s research study is called “The Latina Project: Breaking the Cycle and Silence of Domestic Violence”.

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National Center for Domestic and Sexual Abuse

THE LATINA PROJECT: BREAKING THE SILENCE AND CYCLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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RESEARCHER: DR. CABAN-VAZQUEZ

Dedicated to the memory of my mother Maria Concepción

“Hija, tienes que ser la voz de justicia para la próxima generación.”~M.C. 

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ABSTRACT

In August, 2012 I launched my advocacy research study on domestic violence in the Dominican Republic. This Latina researcher examined how the epidemic of domestic violence follows many of the immigrant Dominican women that settle in the Washington Heights and Dyckman areas in New York City. Regrettably, many Manhattan women shelters and community outreach groups are not able to be culturally responsive to the unique and complex needs of this particular immigrant population.  As a result, many of these battered women eventually go back to their abusers and face insurmountable obstacles to break the cycle of domestic violence in their lives.

The goal of this research project is to collaborate with a local grassroots organization in the Washington Heights area, and offer research findings that can steer and shape their organization action plans to better serve this population of battered women. Ultimately, a program evaluation can demonstrate how this grassroots organization is effectively meeting the needs of Dominican women and making a noteworthy impact. Similar to my research work and program evaluation of a Girls Rescue Shelter in Kenya, findings from this research study and program evaluation can help the grassroots organization seek and secure substantial grant funding from human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and/or the United Nations.

THE LATINA PROJECT: BREAKING THE SILENCE AND CYCLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is endorsed by President Hipolito Mejia and Senator Aristi-Castro of the Altagracia Province. During this trip, I had the honor of meeting with the aforementioned dignitaries to discuss public policy and potential channels for raising awareness to ratify change. With the help of several Dominican local community advocates such as former Councilman Victor Manuel Batista and Mr. Pena,  I conducted focus groups and individual interviews with battered women in the town of Bonao. This field study helped me to better understand the multi-faceted phenomena of domestic violence in the Latino community.

None of this work would have been possible without the amazing support of Loida Pujols who has served as a UN consulate-general for the Dominican Republic. This global citizen and passionate Latina advocate helped pave the way to support and make my research dream come true. Thanks to Mrs. Pujols, SOCIAL CHANGERS WITHOUT BORDERS, INC is able to leave a research footprint of positive social change in our first Latin American country.

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Education as a Social Justice Tool: Adelante —The Latina Perspective

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Education as a Social Justice Tool: Adelante—The Latina Perspective

Vilma Caban-Vazquez, Ed.D

In order to understand the power of your tomorrow, you must go back and understand your humble beginnings.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS:

It’s the summer of 1969. My story begins in a tiny New York City studio apartment in the poverty stricken neighborhood of “Alphabet City”, known to the wave of Puerto Rican immigrants as “Loisaida” otherwise known as the lower east side (Miyares & Airriess, 2007). Born the illegitimate love child of a married Puerto Rican radio announcer and an immigrant Puerto Rican “campesina” (country girl), this feisty niña let out the warrior hunger cry that reverberated in an empty apartment that only housed a mattress and a small transistor radio—my mother’s sole companion. After sharing the news that she was pregnant, “mi papá”  was nowhere to be found. However, for many lonely days my mother eagerly and fondly listened to her first love. Sitting on her mattress, cradling her little miracle, she would tune in on her little radio seeking the smooth radio voice of her heartless and absent lover. The “campesina” desperately worried about how she was going to raise her daughter alone.

Fast forward to a moment in time, around 3 O’Clock in the morning where this resourceful single mother frantically tried to figure out how to feed her daughter. Facing a bare refrigerator, and just some sugar and rice in her pantry, her solution was to warm up some water and place 3 teaspoons of sugar to hold this hungry child for the night. The number three was a significant number to my mother.  The Holy Trinity…in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Somehow, this divine trinity would intercede. Her options were limited as an uneducated woman with a second grade education, and a limited skill set. She braced herself to face another 12 hour workday in a crowded and hot garment factory. “Mami” knew the moment she would bring her precious and hungry “Hija” to her altruistic “vecina” (neighbor), that she would have a warm bottle of milk waiting for her hungry child. As she rocked her “nena” to sleep, praying that sunlight would soon come, she painfully thought about her reality… “Aye Dios mio. ¿Que voy hacer?”.

Mami vowed that her daughter’s future would be different, and it was…my mother’s vow for a better tomorrow runs in this Latina’s veins in the form of strength, perseverance, and a desire for educational social justice. Little did my mother know that my birth place “Loisada” played a central role in the development of the Puerto Rican Movement or better known as the “Nuyorican Movement” (Laó-Montes & Dávila, 2001) . On the same streets that my mother walked her infant and a dream, walked the likes of Puerto Rican poets, intellectuals, and artists. This Nuyorican intellectual, political, and social landscape included poverty programs spearheaded by groups such as the Young Lords and the Black Panthers…both seeking education as the equalizer in socio-economically deprived communities. As a young girl, I was the beneficiary of social poverty programs which included a call for head start, free lead testing, and free breakfast programs. In retrospect, the Latino voice of social change to help those less fortunate was mixed in with my young warrior cries hungry to fulfill my mother’s dream…a better life.

A MOTHER’S STORY:

As a Latina researcher and advocate reflecting on how my education served as a tool for social justice, I immediately gravitated to my mother’s narrative. Segura (2007) asserts that motherhood is a political, economic, social, and cultural construct that shapes a daughter’s pathway. Numerous studies suggest that the mother/daughter relationship and their stories of personal struggle serve as an instrumental tool for daughters to fully interpret their identity and to help “…envision their possible future selves” (Gomez, 2009, p.84). With this in mind, one can examine the multiple factors that contribute to Latina achievement. Sy (2006) posits that one of these factors includes the level of support that the mother demonstrates in nurturing her daughter’s educational goals and her ambitions. Likewise, Gomez (2009) asserts that Latinas draw “metaphorical sustenance from their mothers, most often finding them strong, resilient, and nurturing of their hopes and dreams” (p.85). The key to addressing a Latina’s education as a social justice tool is to find ways to tap into the power of motherhood and the pivotal role that it plays in shaping a Latina’s dream.

~EXCERPT FROM AN ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION~

More information about this type of autoethnographic writing:

http://jce.sagepub.com/content/35/4/373.abstract

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoethnography:

REFERENCES:

Anderson, L. (2006). Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 373-395.

Bruner, J. (2004). Life as narrative. Social Research, 71(3), 691-710.

Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2000). Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 733-768). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Etherington, K. (2004). Becoming a reflexive researcher: Using our selves in research. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Gomez, M.L. (2010). Talking about ourselves, talking about our mothers: Latina prospective teachers narrate their life experiences. Urban Review 42(8), 81-101.

Laó-Montes, A. & Dávila, A. (2001). Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

McIlveen, P. (2008). Autoethnography as a method for reflexive research and practice in vocational psychology. Australian Journal of Career Development, 17(2), 13-20.

Miyares, I.M. & Airriess, C.A. (2007). Contemporary ethnic geographies in America. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Reed-Danahay, D. E. (1997). Introduction. In D. E. Reed-Danahay (Ed.), Auto/Ethnography. Rewriting the self and the social (pp. 1-17). Oxford: Berg.

Segura, D. A. (2007). Working at motherhood: Chicana and Mexican immigrant mothers and employment. In D. A. Segura & P. Zavella (Eds.), Women and migration in the U.S.—Mexico borderlands (pp. 368–387). Durham: Duke University Press.

Sy, S. R. (2006). Family and work influences on the transition to college among Latina adolescents. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 28(3), 368–386.

Research Methodology for Recent Program Evaluation

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KENYAN GIRLS RESCUE SHELTER

CHILD BRIDES & VICTIMS OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

Program Evaluation Methodology

In order to conduct the program evaluation study, Social Changers without Borders, Inc.  dispatched program evaluators to a girls refuge shelter in a rural village 100 miles south of Nairobi.

[Research Images @ http://kenyangirlsfleeingfgm.shutterfly.com/pictures/37#38 and http://kenyangirlsfleeingfgm.shutterfly.com/pictures/39 ]

The program evaluation team employed a qualitative instrumental case study approach. Based on Creswell’s (2008) characterization of a qualitative instrumental case study, the research team explored the organizational structure and activities of a community-based organization serving a Kenyan Maasai community. The goal of the team was to develop a deeper understanding of the central phenomenon of female genital mutilation.  wherein understanding is limited—in this case the understanding of female genital mutilation among Maasai girls in the Rift Valley of Kenya.

Participant Selection

To hone in on the central themes related to TNI’s organizational structures, the SCWB program evaluators used a qualitative and purposive sampling technique—criterion sampling. A criterion sample size of 18 participants contributed to one-to-one interviews wherein said participants had a predetermined criterion— community stakeholders directly working with TNI’s Tasaru Girls Refuge Shelter (Hatch, 2002). The community stakeholders included community leaders, spiritual leaders, former Maasai circumcisers, local law enforcement officials, children’s officers, TNI staff members, TNI executive board members, and rescued girls from different regions and Maasai tribes in the Maasai territory.

Interview Design

In order to elicit qualitative data on historical practices and program structures, Rubin and Rubin (2005) recommend the use of qualitative interviews to help researchers reconstruct events that were not directly observed by said researchers (p. 3). For these aforementioned reasons, SCWB program evaluators gathered a richer set of qualitative data by conducting one-to-one interviews structured and directed by an interview protocol. The qualitative data gathered from interviews can be described as rich and structured conversations wherein SCWB program evaluators followed up on questions posed after an observation and other formal and
informal interviews (Creswell, 2008; Rubin & Rubin, 2005). In support of collecting a wide range of qualitative data, Creswell (2007) asserts that the collection of a rich data from various resources helps to ensure that the researchers triangulate findings. “Triangulation is the process of corroborating evidence from different individuals, and types of data within themes will arise” (Creswell, 2008, p.648). SCWB program evaluators triangulated qualitative findings by combing through detailed transcripts of one-to-one and focus group
interviews with a wide range of community stakeholders.

Data Collection Process

SCWB research team gathered information to develop a richer perspective of the TNI organizational structure. They acquired qualitative data from observation protocols, field notes, reflective notes, photographs, interview transcripts, electronic press releases, and other forms of unstructured text data found in newspaper articles, office memorandums, and formal and informal interoffice correspondence. Flick (2006) describes how the collection of “multifocus data” is a fruitful strategy to approach institutional routines (p. 272). Ultimately, the goal of collecting this wide range of data was to reach a point of “data saturation” which meant that participants shared findings pertaining to a set of categories or themes that began to repeat and ultimately the researchers were not able to acquire any new data (Stake, 2008). With the use of multiple forms of data, Denzin & Lincoln (2008) describe how qualitative researchers can triangulate findings that help to corroborate data collected from the observation and interview participants. The use of multiple forms of data offered SCWB researchers a vital tool for analysis, interpretation, and the trustworthiness of narrative findings.

Hatch (2002) asserts that the use of case study research falls within the “constructivist research paradigm” because the researchers intend to make sense of the participants’ world as well as offer rich narrative descriptions of the participants’ reality and perspectives (p. 16). The qualitative tradition of a case study is an interactive and sensitive examination because extensive qualitative data are primarily gathered from a
small number of participants in the form of observations, structured interviews, and bounded time focus groups (Rubin &Rubin, 2005). Researchers who conduct an instrumental case study choose to focus on separate or grouped individuals involved in a specific activity, event, or program (Creswell, 2008). Consequently, a wide range of qualitative data can be gathered to obtain various perspectives by conducting multiple interviews and observations (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007). An in-depth analysis of qualitative data involved both inductive and deductive reasoning processes that brought to light a series of general themes that gradually emerged (Charmaz, 2000; Creswell, 2007). Through the use of a traditional qualitative inquiry and the framework
of an instrumental case study, SCWB program evaluators examined a series of issues related to a Kenyan grassroots community-based organization.

Creswell (2008) defines an interview as a recorded and structured conversation between the researcher and participant(s) wherein researchers ask general or open-ended questions (p. 641). Face-to-face interviews can offer a source of audio data valuable for understanding participants’ experiences and various events (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). Accordingly, the SCWB program researchers conducted the interview process to further explore issues related to TNI’s organizational structure and community outreach activities. The SCWB team conducted 14 one-to-one and focus group interviews ranging from 45 minutes to 75 minute interviews. In order to accurately gather data, the SCWB program evaluationteam recorded approximately 1,000 minutes of data from the one-to-one interviews using an Olympus Digital Voice Recorder (Olympus America, 2009). Qualitative data gathered from structured participant conversations helped the team gather rich data to develop a stronger understanding of the TNI community-based organization and its efforts in eliminating FGM, and forced
child marriage.

An interview protocol offered the framework necessary to steer a series of interviews with participants. In the interviews, the SCWB researchers posed a set of open-ended questions and recorded the participants’ responses. Creswell (2008) asserts that participants can best express their experiences with open-ended questions. Data collected from interviews helped the SCWB research team “…uncover the meaning structures that participants use to organize their experiences and make sense of their worlds” (Hatch, 2002, p.91). Accordingly, SCWB researchers posed a range of open-ended, probing, and follow-up questions. After an examination of questioning strategies within different interview forums, H.J. Rubin & I. S. Rubin (2005) assert that the use of “probing questions” and follow-up questions help the interviewees share extensive details that may aid in developing a richer understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. The preliminary questions answered in the participants interviews served as helpful leads for finding answers to the sub-questions directing this program evaluation (Creswell, 2008, 1998; Stake, 2000). Throughout the interviewing process, the SCWB team collected audio data and transcribed the information from one-to-one interviews. Creswell (2008) described the transcription of audio data as the process of “…converting audiotape recordings or field notes into text data” (p. 246). The text data from one-to-one interviews assisted the SCWB program evaluation team in expanding their understanding TNI organizational structure and community outreach activities.

Qualitative Data Analysis

After collecting different forms of data, SCWB program evaluators engaged in the process of analyzing the findings. The process involved three tiers of data analysis. Upon completing these different levels of data analysis, the SCWB researchers adhered to a formal data analysis protocol that ensured the quality, accuracy, and the credibility of the findings.

Preliminary Stage of Data Analysis: Open Coding

After the qualitative data was gathered and organized, the SCWB research team followed a constructivist grounded theory data analysis approach (Charmaz, 2000; Creswell, 2007). The SCWB program evaluation team used this data analysis plan to make sense of the audio data and text data gathered from observations and structured interviews. During the initial stage of recording field notes and reflective notes, they had an opportunity to begin the data analysis process by reading the text data and developing sidebar or margin notes (Hatch, 2002). This traditional form of “hand analysis of qualitative data” is the process of reviewing the data, marking the data, and dividing the data into parts into codes or categories (Creswell, 2008, p. 246). As they engaged in the constructivist grounded theory data analysis process of reviewing a large body of qualitative data, they launched the preliminary process of sorting and coding the data (Charmaz, 2008; 2000). By using an inductive process of organizing the data into initial categories, also known as “open coding”, this data consistently fell within topics that were “…extensively discussed by the participants” (Creswell, 2007, p.160). This preliminary process of data analysis can helped the SCWB researchers begin to see the scope of the data findings.

Second Stage of Data Analysis: Axial Coding

Within the constructivist grounded theory of data analysis, the nature of the themes naturally moved from general to specific categories (Charmaz, 2008; 2000). This helped the SCWB team identify “patterns of meaning in data so that general statements about the phenomena under investigation can be made” (Hatch, 2002, p. 160—161). Creswell (2007) describes this second stage of the coding process as “axial coding” wherein the researchers review the database and seeks to find insight into specific “coding categories” (p. 161). This coding process offers the qualitative researchers “analytic scaffolding” for creating various data categories (Charmaz, 2008, p. 217). In fact, the object of the axial coding process is to make sense of the data and to identify codes that overlap or repeat so that you can collapse these codes into broader categories (Creswell, 2008, p.251). The broader categories can be seen as “themes” that have saturated data to support them (Charmaz, 2000). Researchers can organize these themes and codes within a “coding paradigm” or matrix (Creswell, 2007, p. 161). After coding the data and analyzing the various themes, the SCWB program evaluation team began the final phase of the data analysis plan.

Final Stage of Data Analysis: Selective Coding

Charmaz (2000) describes the final data analysis approach of the constructivist grounded theory as selective codingwherein the researchers begin to theorize and develop statements that help to explain the meaning of the findings. Although it may seem that the coding procedures of data analysis fell within a linear process, Creswell (2008) describes it as an “ongoing process involving continual reflection about the data, asking analytic questions, and writing memos throughout the study (p.190). As qualitative researchers, the SCWB research team engaged in the extensive process of data analysis to ensure the triangulation of data.

“MOMENTS” ARE LIFE’S MARKERS IN A JOURNEY

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This research journey will cover a wide terrain. I will encounter a variety of different trails full of clear paths and unforeseen bends in the road. What is steering this research path? I am led by an ethical moral compass seeking truth for the participants of our study. This advocacy research will be a formal and evidence-based voice sharing the narratives of the change agents involved and the powerful stories of the participants involved with FGM. I firmly believe that this joint research path is a memorable life marker. One day when I’m old and gray…I will look back fondly to this memory and feel so humbled that God set me on this course. Where will it take me…only He truly knows.
Meeting with the Nairobi Team:
Today our research team met with the director of the Nairobi Equality Now office and we discussed our shared vision for our program evaluation study. The synergy between our teams speaks of the amazing compassion that we have for the child brides fleeing female genital mutilation. The EQNN women received us with such grace and enthusiasm. They communicated their appreciation for the special gift that the SCWB team will extend to their initiative. Social Changers without Borders, Inc. will conduct this program evaluation as a charitable service to support the TNI program director so that she can position herself globally to advocate for funds. Regrettably, the funding universe, seeks quantitative and qualitative findings that demonstrate how a program’s objectives are met. When the TNI change agent is on the field working intimately with the pressing issues of the girls… tell me…who has time to write up reports and do data analysis? I am asking God to use me as a vessel—a platform builder for others who need to establish this formal and scientifically-based voice.
Mentally Preparing:
I used a variety of resources to give me some background on the Maasai tribes. Today I learned that their lives mainly revolve around the raising of their cattle. This animal sustains this community because it provides meat, milk, and blood (the staple foods of their diet).

The Maasai are a resilient culture because of their nomadic roots. In fact, when it comes to issues of FGM…they are very resistant to change, because everything they do is deeply connected to traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. If you ask the Maasai to examine their practice of FGM and to change…you are asking them to do the equivalent of CTRL, ATL, DELETING a file that is central to their story…suspending their identity of who they are as a people.“Like many other cultures, the Maasai have myths about their origins, and the origins of their customs and traditions. Folklore explains the origin of female circumcision in the story of Naipei, a young girl who had intercourse with the enemy of her family, and whose punishment came in the form of circumcision, a decision her family took to prevent her from feeling the urges that had led her to commit the crime.Since that day, in a bid to protect their honor and the honor of the Maasai society, all Maasai girls who reach adolescence have been circumcised. The aim of FGM is therefore to limit the sexual desire and promiscuity of girls.” To read more on this you can follow this link  http://www.irinnews.org/InDepthMain.aspx?InDepthId=15&ReportId=62470