FREDERICTON – Hyasinter Rugoro was born in a refugee camp in Tanzania, eventually escaping Rwanda and fleeing to Canada as an expectant mother.
Two months pregnant, and knowing no English or French, she had no idea what services were available to her, and immediately started feeling isolated and alone.
“I really was a grown-up who suddenly feels like a child who needs to learn how to crawl again. It just was fear and anxiety,” said Rugoro.
Rugoro is now one of two researchers studying what challenges immigrant women face, specifically the chance for intimate partner violence to ensue.
The group, led by the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, is hoping to discover how prevalent domestic violence is among immigrant families and what services are available to help.
Rugoro says her partner was very supportive, but she has heard other immigrant women suffer through domestic violence.
Costanza Torri, the other co-chair of the research team, says this issue is not only timely, but critical for future immigrant women coming to New Brunswick.
“These women are basically financially and socially dependent on their husband as the husband sponsors them. So they fear leaving abusive and violent relationship.”
“There is a need to find out more and to also, not only carry out research but to carry out practical interventions to address this social issue,” she said.
Status of Women Canada has granted the New Brunswick Multicultural Council over $200,000 to study the issue. The Council says the province is experiencing growth in its immigrant population which includes people from many different countries of origin with diverse ethno-religious backgrounds.
It’s the first time something like this has been studied in New Brunswick.
“This project will help bridge the gap and ensure that all community and public services relating to domestic and intimate partner violence are accessible to all woman who need them, including immigrant women,” said Alex LeBlanc, Managing Director of the Council.
The project includes researches from the University of New Brunswick the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research.