Dec. 10th, 16 Days of Activism comes to a close: 1153 postcards sent!
The international campaign 16 days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence kicked off on November 25th. The campaign lasts 16 days until December 10th, World Human Rights Day. We urge you all to visit the website for the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and their page on the 16 Days Campaign to learn more about this global effort.
Sakhi is delighted to have participated in the 16 days campaign for the first time. In keeping with the theme of “For the Health of Women, For the Health of the World: No More Violence” which emphasizes the intersection of HIV/AIDS and violence against women, we launched a web-postcard campaign to raise awareness about this important (and under-reported) issue. We asked community emmbers (like YOU) to send these postcards on and make the campaign a reality – and we’re absolutely thrilled to report that YOUR efforts during the 16 days were phenomenal!
In total, in the 16 days between November 25th and December 10th:
• 1153 postcards were sent (using the “Send a Postcard” tool on sakhi.org. It is possible that more were sent but if people simply forwarded the e-mail with the postcard link in it, we have no way of tracking this.)
• 853 separate individuals were reached.
Thank you all! Your initiative, commitment and belief in the power to create change is demonstrated again, and again, and again! A very special shout-out to our many volunteers who sent out between 30 and 40 postcards! But we especially wish to thank our former Board member Rahela Sachedina, who sent out a whopping 89 postcards during the 16 days! Incredible – but all true!
Dec. 8th: Making the Connections: Gender Violence and HIV/AIDS
At “Making the Connections: Gender Violence and HIV/AIDS, A Dialogue” Sakhi, CONNECT (www.connectnyc.org) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC, www.afsc.org) were happy to learn from and discuss with friends and colleagues about issues faced by us in addressing HIV/AIDS in our everyday work.
18 people participated in the 5-hour dialogue which included presentations by speakers working in various fields. Speakers included Carla Lee, who works with the Women’s Project at the Asian and Pacific Islander Coalition against HIV/AIDS (APICHA, www.apicha.org), Claudia Molina, HIV Outreach Prevention & Education Program Coordinator at Safe Space and Sapna Pandya, Coordinator of the South Asian Health Initiative (SAHI) for the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH) & NYU Center for Immigrant Health (CIH).
We thank our collaborating partners, all the speakers and participants and look forward to building on the connections we made!
Dec. 3rd: 16 Days of Activism – Poster-making workshop
On Saturday, December 3rd, as part of the 16 days campaign and in lieu of our monthly support group, we conducted a poster-making workshop. 16 women shared their visions for the future with ink, paint, crayon, marker, paper – and laughter. Co-facilitated by Bix Gabriel and Laimah Osman, this was an opportunity for us to “dream and draw – big”. From the posters generated from the workshop, we are happy to say that there are indeed artists within us all. You will get to see the pictures soon!
Written by Rupande Mehta (a Sakhi volunteer) with input from Bix Gabriel
“Mukhtar’s optimism is contagious,” said Robina Niaz from Turning Point, of Mukhtar Bibi, better known as Mukthar Mai, the victim-turned activist from Meerwala in Pakistan, who spoke at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York on Saturday, November 5, 2005. Sakhi is proud to have been a co-sponsor (along with the Asia Society and Cooper Union) of the event organized by Asian American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights (ANAA) and the Amnesty International USA NYC Women’s Human Rights Action Team.
A group of about 100 people attended to hear this simple, ordinary woman speak of her life and her struggle against injustice after a heinous gang rape shook her life a few years ago. Recalling the incident, said Mai through an interpreter, “I had only God and my mother in my darkest hours”. Glamour magazine awarded Mai with the ‘Woman of the Year 2005’, a prize of $20,000. “She did not want to come here and receive this award,” said Amna from AANAA (Asian American Network Against Abuse), referring to Mai’s hesitance in being honored at a time when thousands of her fellow countrymen were suffering due to the devastating earthquake. Mai has requested Glamour’s permission to donate $5,000 of her award money for the women and children who are affected by the quake.
Donned in a blue churidhar, with her head covered, Mukhtar Mai is a soft-spoken, devout Muslim with a great sense of humor. “I have to be candid about what I say, as my case is still in the court,” responded Mai to a laughing crowd when asked about the judicial system in Pakistan.
Now in third grade of one of the two schools that she has started, Mai repeatedly stressed on the importance of education for both boys and girls. “The feudal lords who do bad deeds use poor people to do it. So if poor people are educated, they won’t do it. So education is important.” While many audience members commented on Mai’s recent literacy, her knowledge and insight seemed to transcend books and schooling. Using a minimum of words, she urged solidarity throughout the world to end violence against women, particularly stressing the struggles of poor women everywhere. Moreover, her speech and manner conveyed a humility that evokes a rare phenomenon: the power of the human spirit at work in the everyday.
Mai was gang raped three years ago by four volunteers on the orders of a jirga or a village court. She was later paraded naked before hundreds of onlookers as an example for anyone who dared to defy the power of the local lords. Mai’s quest for justice has won her both national and international support. Her case is currently in the Pakistan Supreme Court awaiting a decision. You can read more about her at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/29/opinion/29kris.html?ex=1254196800&en=6d77205dccbf6285&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland
Against Violence. For Community. What Did People Do?
We asked you, our community, what will you do at the March Against Violence? And you responded by attending, speaking, dancing, supporting, bringing friends and family and above all, demonstrating the power of community voices – and silence. How so?
This year, the Annual March kicked off not with chants and exclamations, but with silence. The first round of the annual March Against Violence was conducted in complete silence – a silence deafening in its portrayal of a community in pain. Shoppers and sellers, South Asians and non-desis , children and grandparents, all stopped and stared as a crowd of more than a 100 women and men took over the busy sidewalks of Jackson Heights – in complete, astonishing silence – at Sakhi’s 8th Annual March Against Violence this past Saturday. As one community member put it, “Seeing so many people marching in silence gave me goose bumps. It was the most powerful thing I’ve witnessed.”
In the second round of the March, the group chanted slogans in English, Hindi, Urdu, and Bangla, drawing surprise and interest from the watching spectators. But the third round of the March had members of the audience joining the marchers as they not only chanted and marched but even danced to the accompaniment of a loud, festive dhol (drum).
Councilman John Liu, who walked with Sakhi, said at the Speak Out following the march, “This event was truly uplifting. The community’s support of Sakhi’s work to break the silence is a true sign of success. But this is only the beginning. What we truly need is for our government to understand that this is a problem.” Along with him, several other Sakhi partners including APICHA (Asian and Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV and AIDS), Turning Point, SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action!), SCCADV (Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence), and CONNECT attended the march and spoke about the many services they provide. Several touched on the strong partnerships they share with Sakhi, which has been a vital part of the organization’s community-building work in its 16 years of existence.
One particular issue which a number of speakers addressed was the role of men in the movement to end violence against women. Ramesh Kumar of CONNECT, an organization dedicated to the prevention and elimination of family and gender violence in New York, spoke of recognizing male privilege even while immigrant men face discrimination. Ghazala Afzal, Sakhi volunteer, acknowledged the large numbers of men who participated in the March saying, “I want to thank all the men – the brothers, fathers, friends, husbands, uncles who support Sakhi and the women in their lives – without your support, we cannot end violence.” Bix Gabriel, Community Outreach and Media Coordinator at Sakhi, added, “In the past few years we have seen more men calling on behalf of their sisters, cousins, nieces, daughters. Today we ask you all not only to call Sakhi but to talk to your peers, your friends and family about how we can end – and prevent – domestic violence.”