Building Bridges of Faith Against Domestic Violence

Working Paper 2

This working paper series is published as part of project dldl/ድልድል, which is dedicated to the development and strengthening of religioculturally sensitive domestic violence alleviation systems in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK. The project is hosted at SOAS University of London, and is funded initially for four years by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the Future Leaders Fellowship “Bridging religious studies, gender & development and public health to address domestic violence: A novel approach for Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK” (Grant Ref: MR/T043350/1), and supported with a research grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation awarded in 2019 under the proposal “Religion, conscience and abusive behaviour: Understanding the role of faith and spirituality in the deterrence of intimate partner violence in rural Ethiopia.”

The project seeks to promote a decolonial approach to addressing domestic violence by engaging substantively with the religiocultural belief systems of domestic violence victims/survivors and perpetrators. It also aims to improve understanding about how religious experience interfaces with gender, material and psychological parameters to facilitate or deter domestic violence in different religious contexts. It will result in new research and intervention approaches working with Ethiopian and Eritrean collaborators, and rural and urban communities, and will apply knowledge from the respective countries to inform approaches towards integrating and better supporting ethnic minority and migrant populations affected by domestic violence in the UK. The project employs research, sensitisation, knowledge exchange and public engagement activities, working collaboratively with partners, stakeholders and communities in the three countries with the aims to:

  1.  improve preparedness among clergy and seminarians to respond to victims/survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence in their communities;
  2. increase religiocultural sensitivity in nongovernmental and stateled domestic violence sectors in the project countries;
  3. develop integrated domestic violence support systems that can be sensitive and responsive to religioculturally diverse populations; and
  4. promote reciprocal research partnerships and capacity development for project staff, partners and collaborators.

The project is informed by previous ethnographic investigations of conjugal abuse in the Ethiopian Orthodox community in Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. It intended to develop the evidence base with new research activities and interventions with the clergy in Tigray, as well as to disseminate the evidence and inform approaches to domestic violence in other religious communities of Ethiopia. Unexpectedly, on 4 November 2020 (four days after the official start date of project dldl/ድልድል), a conflict erupted in Tigray region. This raised an urgent need to pay attention to violence experienced in political conflict and related trauma in order to understand the implications for domestic life and family relations in the conflictaffected communities. The current working paper presents preliminary results from a rapid scoping literature review that was initialised soon after the outbreak of the conflict to identify the state of evidence on the relationship between political violence and domestic violence internationally to deepen the analysis of domestic violence in conflict-ridden Tigray as part of the ongoing work of project dldl/ድልድል, but also to inform current humanitarian approaches in the region.

All working papers produced by project dldl/can be downloaded at the projects official website:

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