Spousal Abuse Among Immigrants From Ethiopia in Israel


The Spitzer Department of Social Work, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box, 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel (kacen@bgu.ac.il).


This ethnographic study obtains first-hand information on spousal abuse from Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. Data include 23 interviews with male and female immigrants of various ages and 10 professionals who worked with this community as well as observations and documents. The findings, verified by participants, show that during cultural transition, the immigrants’ code of honor, traditional conflict-solving institutions, and family role distribution disintegrate. This situation, exacerbated by economic distress, proved conducive to women’s abuse. Lack of cultural sensitivity displayed by social services actually encouraged women to behave abusively toward their husbands and destroy their families. Discussion focuses on communication failures in spousal-abuse discourse between immigrants from Ethiopia and absorbing society, originating in differences in values, behavior, social representations, and insensitive culture theories.