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Article

Amber Sutton, Haley Beech, and Debra Nelson-Gardell

Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects millions of individuals yearly, both domestically and globally. Direct linkages exist between experiencing IPV and adverse health outcomes. No matter the type of service arena, social workers encounter IPV; for that reason, all social workers need to be familiar with IPV, its consequences, and potential interventions. One form of IPV that is often undetected and underreported is reproductive coercion (RC). Reproductive coercion, a relatively new term, focuses on birth control sabotage and pregnancy coercion. Reproductive coercion is directly associated with IPV in that power and control are maintained by stripping away autonomy and decision-making ability concerning one’s reproductive and sexual health. Although many victims of IPV will experience this type of sexual abuse, RC is a less discussed form of violence and is often difficult to detect through traditional screening processes, further delaying effective intervention. Reproductive coercion affects the overall emotional, physical, and psychological health of survivors, therefore social workers need to be able to identify specific RC behaviors and know how to appropriately intervene and advocate. A thorough review of the existing literature on the link between IPV and RC has been organized into practical application methods that social workers can use to inform micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. All practice methods are designed to aid in reducing harm caused by RC and to help increase survivors’ control over their own bodies and reproductive health. Such applications will include screening for potential abuse, recognizing risk and protective factors, introducing culturally sensitive interventions, and policy implications and recommendations.

Article

Selena T. Rodgers

Domestic violence is a public health problem shown to inflict severe mental and physical injury on millions of individuals and has considerable social costs. Absent from the literature is an examination of womanism ideologies, which provide a greater understanding of the full praxis that black women who experience domestic violence engage. Drawing from initial conceptualizations of womanism and later contributions of Africana womanism, this article brings into focus pervasive acts of violence perpetrated against black women, their racial loyalty to protect black men, and the limitations of existing domestic violence models and interventions. This entry addresses how these three interconnected areas are treated within the conceptual framework of womanism. An overview of violence against black women reveals the historical and contemporary forms of knowledge and praxis that have sought to overcome the social problem of intimate partner abuse, including the social construction of controlling images and the Power and Control Wheel (The Duluth Model). This entry also examines the prevalence of violence perpetrated against black women and compounding factors. In addition, this author considers the Violence Against Women Act and its consequences on laws and policies that affect the race, gender, and class experiences of black women coping with domestic violence. Also analyzed is the quintessential role of demographics, the culture of domestic violence, and international debates about womanism, including how black women intellectuals are prioritizing race-empowerment perspectives and a reference point to articulate healthy black relationships are prioritized. The article also reviews social work practice with black women victims/survivors of domestic violence and their families.

Article

William J. Hall

Sexual orientation is a multidimensional phenomenon involving a person’s sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual orientation identity. Sexual orientation patterns may remain consistent or fluctuate over time. Although heterosexual attractions, behaviors, and identities appear to be the dominant manifestations of sexual orientation, other sexual expressions exist. The causes of sexual orientation are still not completely understood; however, evidence suggests that biological factors play a strong role. Sexual development is an important part of human development, and there are parallel and differing developmental tasks and trajectories for those who are heterosexual and those who are queer. Non-heterosexual sexualities are often stigmatized, which contributes to homophobia and heterosexism. There is a continuing history in the mental health professions of efforts to change the sexual orientation of people who are queer, despite evidence of harm and ethical mandates. Researchers and service providers should assess sexual orientation because it is one of many important characteristics in the lives of individuals.

Article

Altaf Husain

During the 21st century, professional organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers have sanctioned standards for religious competence in social work practice and education. Social work practitioners and students are expected to receive training and education in spirituality. While content on Islam and Muslims is emerging in the professional literature, this is the first article in the Encyclopedia to explore the relatedness between the teachings of the Islamic faith and the social work profession. The Muslim population in the world, and in the United States specifically, is described briefly, along with an overview of intra-faith diversity. Social work practice with Muslims can be enhanced substantially when practitioners are aware of the worldview of Muslims and core Islamic values. In addition, practitioners should be familiar with Islamic teachings within a historical and professional context. Micro and macro level practice strategies and approaches are presented with a special emphasis on social work values and ethics. Lastly, practice principles for religion-sensitive practice with clients who self-identify as Muslims are delineated.

Article

The risk of HIV infection looms large among male, female, and transgender sex workers in India. Several individual, sociocultural, and structural-environmental factors enhance the risk of HIV infection among sex workers by restricting their ability to engage in safer sexual practices with clients and/or intimate partners. While most HIV prevention programs and research focus on visible groups of women sex workers operating from brothels (Pardasani, 2005) and traditional sex workers, for example, Devadasis (Orchard, 2007); there is a whole subgroup of the sex worker population that remains invisible within HIV prevention programs, such as the male, female, and transgender sex workers operating from non-brothel-based settings. This paper provides an overview of the different types and contexts of sex work prevalent in Indian society, discusses the factors that increase a sex worker’s risk of HIV infection, describes the varied approaches to HIV prevention adopted by the existing HIV prevention programs for sex workers, discusses the limitations of the HIV prevention programs, and concludes with implications for social work practice and education.

Article

Women have a lengthy history of fighting their oppression as women and the inequalities associated with this to claim their place on the world stage, in their countries, and within their families. This article focuses on women’s struggles to be recognized as having legitimate concerns about development initiatives at all levels of society and valuable contributions to make to social development. Crucial to their endeavors were: (1) upholding gender equality and insisting that women be included in all deliberations about sustainable development and (2) seeing that their daily life needs, including their human rights, be treated with respect and dignity and their right to and need for education, health, housing, and all other public goods are realized. The role of the United Nations in these endeavors is also considered. Its policies on gender and development, on poverty alleviation strategies—including the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals—are discussed and critiqued. Women’s rights are human rights, but their realization remains a challenge for policymakers and practitioners everywhere. Social workers have a vital role to play in advocating for gender equality and mobilizing women to take action in support of their right to social justice. Our struggle for equality has a long and courageous history.

Article

Kathleen Bergquist

The definition of human trafficking generally includes the commercial exploitation of persons for labor or sex. Although the International Labour Organization estimated in 2012 that exploitation through forced labor trafficking is up to three times more prevalent than forced sexual exploitation, sex trafficking seems to receive greater media and public attention. This article provides a historical context for sex trafficking, some discussion about the political evolution of sex trafficking legislation, current knowledge, and practice.

Article

Since the mid 1980s, a growing body of theoretical and empirical literature has examined the existence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Collectively, this research has suggested that IPV in rainbow communities occurs at rates comparable to those documented among heterosexual populations and results in similar detrimental psychological, social, and physical consequences for victims. Importantly, however, this work has also highlighted myriad ways in which the social and structural marginalization of gender and sexual minority populations create unique vulnerabilities for IPV that are not shared by cissexual and heterosexual individuals. This entry provides an overview of this scholarship to inform strength-based social work practice with and for LGBT survivors of domestic violence at the macro, mezzo, and micro levels.

Article

Ann Marie Yamada, Lisa Marie Werkmeister Rozas, and Bronwyn Cross-Denny

Intersectionality refers to the intersection of identities that shape an individual’s standing in society. The combining of identities produces distinct life experiences, in part depending on the oppression and privilege associated with each identity. The intersectional approach is an alternative to the cultural competence model that can help social workers better address the unique and complex needs of their diverse clients. This entry provides a general overview of the historical and interdisciplinary roots of intersectionality and addresses its use as a theoretical perspective, methodology, mechanism for social change and social justice, and policy framework in social work. The role of intersectionality in social work policy development, teaching, and research will be presented with consideration of future directions and areas for further development.

Article

Melissa B. Littlefield, Denise McLane-Davison, and Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi

Mechanisms of oppression that serve to subordinate the strengths, knowledge, experiences, and needs of women in families, communities, and societies to those of men are at the root of gender inequality. Grounded in the strengths perspective of social work, the basic premise of the present discussion emphasizes gender equality as opposed to inequality. At the core of gender equality is the value of womanhood and the need to ensure the health and well-being of women and girls. Women’s participation in different societal domains including economic opportunities, political empowerment, educational attainment, health, and well-being are all impacted by their roles. Thus, structural weaknesses are major barriers for reforming efforts on global gender equality. Challenging traditional notions of gender, which is defined as behavioral, cultural, and social characteristics that are linked to womanhood or manhood, is the basis for achieving gender equality by attending to how these characteristics govern the relationship between women and men and the power differences that impact choices and agency to choose. Further, both equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are imperative for achieving gender equality among women and girls. Although progress has been made toward gender equality for many women, lower income women—as well as women who face social exclusion stemming from their caste, disability, location, ethnicity, and sexual orientation––have not experienced improvements in gender equality to the same extent as other women. Broad outcomes of gender equality around the globe include decreased poverty, increased social and economic justice, and better well-being and empowerment among men and women. Gender equality is a smart tool for economic development because it can remove barriers to access and enhance productivity gains in a competitive world.