Myths & Facts on Migration & Gender-Based Violence

Myth: Men from migrant backgrounds are more often abusive towards their partners.

Fact: Male intimate partner violence exists in all societies and cultures. Migrant men are not more likely to be abusers than men who live where they were born. We must highlight the issue of abuse within migrant communities without using racist stereotypes.

Myth: Women from migrant backgrounds don’t leave abusive partners because they are submissive.

Fact: Many factors make it hard for women to leave abusive partners. An uncertain legal status or language barriers complicate an already challenging process. On average, a woman (of any background) needs 7(!) tries to leave her abuser.

Myth: Cultural practices must be respected at all costs and not questioned.

Fact: Asking people not to blame culture is not the same thing as asking people not to question and address violence in particular groups or societies. We must all change structural inequalities and violent practices upheld by traditions and look to those who are most directly affected for leadership and solutions.[1]


[1] Multicultural Centre for Women's Health (2020). Challenging myths about culture and violence. Melbourne.

Myth: Migrant perpetrators of abuse cannot change because abuse is part of their culture.

Fact: Any man can find examples or attitudes in his culture that excuse abuse. Violence is a personal choice, not the product of any particular culture. If we limit a migrant man’s violence to his culture, we ignore his responsibility for his actions. If he is willing to take responsibility and work on himself, he can change – just like many other abusive men.

Myth: All Muslim men believe men should have more power than women.

Fact: Growing up with a certain religion does not make everybody believe the same things. Many Muslim men believe in gender equality and actively support women’s rights within their communities and beyond.

Myth: Intimate partner violence does not exist in migrant communities.

Fact: Patriarchal conditioning can keep survivors from recognising abuse or speaking up. Additionally, social taboos, fear of racist responses or missing information about support services increase the difficulty of disclosing abuse.

Myth: Abusive men with migration backgrounds can be “cured” of their violence with Western culture.

Fact: “[…] all cultures are patriarchal, not more or less, but differently” (Volpp, 2011)[2]. The idea of a more enlightened or developed West ignores global and historical diversity and is racist. Rather than impose white or Western supremacy, perpetrator programmes need to adopt culturally sensitive approaches.


[2] Volpp, Leti, Framing Cultural Difference: Immigrant Women and Discourses of Tradition (2011). Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1: 90-110, UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2127473, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2127473

Last changed: 25.11.2022