Economic Gender-Based violence happens all over the world, although the response by law, administrations and general societies differ depending on the country
Economic gender violence has been studied in different countries, ranging from those with a well developed welfare state to others where it is non existent. In this post, we will analyse studies from Sweden, New Zealand and Ghana, representing three different continents
The study in Sweden, carried out by Erikson and Ulmestig (2017), comprises 19 in-depth interviews to women who had suffered economic violence from their ex-partner, most of them having children and coming from a working class background. Although the scope of the study was limited by the number of interviews, the relates from the women were consistent associating this violence with other forms of abuse, related to a repeated pattern of men controlling and limiting women’s ability to acquire, use or maintain financial resources (Adams et al., 2008) with long-term effects such as poverty, ill-health and dependence for them and their children (Branigan, 2004). Moreover, ending the relationship seldom stopped the financial abuse or its consequences, making it a form of abuse “to be continued”, being this finding supported by earlier research (Branigan, 2004; Postmus et al., 2012; Stylianou et al., 2013; Green, 2014). In this sense, it must also be highlighted that institutional practices and procedures often mimic and support the perpetuation of men’s financial abuse although often unconsciously (Branigan, 2004; Eriksson and Ulmestig, 2016; Laakso and Drevdahl, 2006).
New Zealand :
The second study we will analyse was carried out in Aotearoa (New Zealand), where the Domestic Violence Act 1995 (DVA) has extended the legal definition of a “relationship” to include household members and close personal relationships and the description of behaviours defined as abusive currently include the sub-category of economic abuse under the overarching category of psychological abuse, describing this as “denying or limiting access to financial resources, or preventing or restricting employment opportunities or access to education”.
This study was developed through a survey, answered by 441 women, also including the cases of people who identified as women including trans-women, intersex people, and non-binary people. Among the results, it was noteworthy that economic abuse followed patterns of gender stereotypes and oppression, legitimized by ideals of male superiority (Peralta and Tuttle, 2013). This conduced to reinforce the allocation of financial resources to men’s activities or purchases, being these expected to take responsibility for household requirements and holding decisions, while devaluating women’s activities and needs, which are considered as a wasteful expense. In addition, the study revealed the diverse range of economic strategies that women have been developed under extreme financial stress and marginalisation.
We will analyse the study by Sedziafa, Tenkorang, and Owusu (2016), who gathered the experience of 18 women on intimate partner economic abuse in the Eastern Region of Ghana using qualitative in-depth interviews. Although economic abuse is specifically mentioned in Ghana’s Domestic Violence Act (2007), as one that deprives or threatens to deprive individuals of economic or financial resources they are entitled to by law, it is rarely punished by Ghanaian civil laws (Cantalupo, Martin, Pak, and Shin, 2006).
There are not so many studies regarding the prevalence of Gender Based Violence in Ghana and the factors that determine this incidence, but according to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit, economic abuse may be a common type of violence. It is interesting to remark that the results revealed differences between the women coming from matrilineal and patrilineal groups. although issues related to gender inequality, patriarchy, and economic dependence were widespread across both groups. This way, women coming from patrilineal groups suffered a more severe economic abuse, accompanied by physical, emotional, and sexual violence; while women coming from matrilineal groups, with access to economic resources such as land suffered less severe violence. This is aligned with the assumption that women’s economic assets substantially lessen an abuser’s ability to control them as well as increases the victim’s ability to escape violence, also found by different researchers from other countries such as Sanders (2015).