"Choosing" their own Partners: South Asian Women's Lived Experiences and Responses to Intimate Partner and Familial Violence

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Discourses specific to South Asian women’s experiences of marriage tend to primarily focus on arranged marriages (Pande 2016, 2014), and especially its coupling with forced marriage (Siddiqui 2003b) and honour based violence (Siddiqui 2011). Black Feminists have highlighted how this coupling is not binary and that there exists a complexity in women’s experiences across the spectrum of arranged and forced marriage (Anitha and Gill 2009, Gill and Hamed 2016) and where forced marriage is situated within the “Continuum of Violence” (Siddiqui 2013). This thesis looks beyond arranged and forced marriage by examining South Asian women’s transgressions of social norms of marriage by choosing their own partners together with their experiences of intimate partner and familial violence. A qualitative research approach used Black Feminist Standpoint Epistemology employing intersectional analysis to give voice to South Asian women’s experiences and an insight into the workings of gendered control at the intersections of gender, age, poverty, religion, education, citizenship and culture. The study involved detailed narrative/interviews with fifteen women who had chosen their own partners and experienced domestic violence.
    A thematic analysis determined key themes; women’s experiences of concurrent familial and intimate partner violence; women’s agency and the absence of fathers in their lives. Choosing a partner becomes the very barrier to leaving that violent relationship. In what I term the “see-saw of power”, women’s responses consisted of resistance and resilience to power from multiple perpetrators, in different situations. Women cited familial violence, over intimate partner violence, as the biggest site of trauma which for some women resulted in the rejection of their heritage. This all points to a spiral of survival, rather than a continuum of violence, where the women’s responses of resilience and resistance to familial and intimate partner violence centres on their survival and that of their children. Black Feminist Standpoint Epistemological approach demonstrated the complexity of women’s experiences of choosing their own partners and the need for more qualitative studies in this subject area.
    Date of AwardFeb 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorHazel Barrett (Supervisor), Gill Cressey (Supervisor) & Geraldine Brady (Supervisor)


    • Black Feminist Standpoint Epistemology
    • Intersectionality
    • Continuum of Violence
    • South Asian Women
    • Power
    • Agency
    • Domestic Violence

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