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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 258–260 | Cite as

Economic Abuse and Intra-household Inequities in Food Security

  • Elaine M. PowerEmail author
Commentary

Abstract

Food insecurity affected over 2.3 million Canadians in 2004. To date, the food security literature has not considered the potential impact of economic abuse on food security, but there are three ways in which these two important public health issues may be related: 1) victims of economic abuse are at risk of food insecurity when they are denied access to adequate financial resources; 2) the conditions that give rise to food insecurity may also precipitate intimate partner violence in all its forms; 3) women who leave economically abusive intimate heterosexual relationships are more likely to live in poverty and thus are at risk of food insecurity. This paper presents a case of one woman who, during a qualitative research interview, spontaneously reported economic abuse and heterosexual interpersonal violence. The economic abuse suffered by this participant appears to have affected her food security and that of her children, while her husband’s was apparently unaffected. There is an urgent need to better understand the nature of intra-household food distribution in food-insecure households and the impact of economic abuse on its victims’ food security. Such an understanding may lead to improved food security measurement tools and social policies to reduce food insecurity.

MeSH Terms

Domestic violence family public health poverty 

Résumé

Plus de 2,3 millions de Canadiens ont souffert d’insécurité alimentaire en 2004. Jusqu’à maintenant, les études sur l’insécurité alimentaire n’ont pas tenu compte de l’impact possible de l’exploitation financière, mais ces deux importants enjeux de santé publique pourraient être liés de trois façons différentes: 1) les victimes d’exploitation financière sont vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire lorsqu’on leur refuse l’accès à des ressources financières suffisantes; 2) les conditions propices à l’insécurité alimentaire peuvent aussi précipiter la violence entre partenaires intimes, sous toutes ses formes; 3) les femmes qui mettent fin à une relation intime hétérosexuelle où elles sont exploitées financièrement sont plus susceptibles de vivre sous le seuil de la pauvreté, et elles sont donc vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire. Nous présentons ici le cas d’une femme qui, pendant une entrevue de recherche qualitative, a spontanément révélé qu’elle était victime d’exploitation financière et de violence interpersonnelle hétérosexuelle. L’exploitation financière dont elle a souffert semble avoir mis en péril sa sécurité alimentaire et celle de ses enfants, tandis que la sécurité alimentaire de son mari n’aurait pas été touchée. Il est urgent de mieux comprendre la répartition des vivres au sein des ménages souffrant d’insécurité alimentaire et l’impact de l’exploitation financière sur la sécurité alimentaire des personnes qui en sont victimes. On pourrait peut-être ainsi améliorer les outils de mesure de la sécurité alimentaire et les politiques sociales visant à réduire l’insécurité alimentaire.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Studies Program, School of Physical and Health EducationQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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