Sakhi Fields Record Requests for Services in 2008

Sakhi recorded a record number of new requests for support in 2008 as 731 individuals contacted us through phone or e-mail.

By comparison, 201 individuals contacted us in 2001, showing Sakhi’s call volume has more than tripled in the past seven years.

Further, in terms of language, a least 30% of callers preferred not to speak in English (or had limited English proficiency) or called on behalf of someone else who preferred not to speak English (or had limited English proficiency), highlighting the continued need for the linguistically-appropriate services Sakhi has been offering for 20 years. Sakhi has also been working in the policy arena to ensure those in need of interpreters receive appropriate access in the courts.

The rise in new requests parallels another increase in demand for ongoing services. Direct Services Director Sandeep Kaur Bathala observed, “Not only are we seeing an increase in new callers, but we’re seeing survivors we’ve worked with over the years reach out to us more as well.”

The 2008 figures also show that about 12.7% of the callers were male. Of those callers, 20.4% were calling on behalf of themselves and the remaining 79.6% were calling on behalf of a loved one, such as a sister. This illustrates the importance of Sakhi’s community-based strategy, which emphasizes that domestic violence affects the entire community and also that men can play a positive role in helping to end abuse.

The breakdown of calls and e-mails by country of origin proved similar to that of 2007. The largest category of those seeking support hailed from India (35.5%), followed by those of Bangladeshi origin (20.1%), a South Asian country not specified (13.0%), and Pakistan (12.3%). We also fielded requests from those who identified with the following communities: Indo-Caribbean (5.9%), Nepalese (1.6%), Sri Lankan (1%) and Afghan (0.8%). The remaining individuals were either of non-South Asian origin or did not provide a country of origin.

The number and percentage of Indo-Caribbean women reaching out to Sakhi in 2008 was the highest ever. Sakhi broadened its scope of work in 2008 to include more Indo-Caribbean women in the neighborhood of Richmond Hill, Queens, where we are spearheading our Faith-Based Initiative and co-sponsoring an Arts and Empowerment workshop in 2009. Domestic Violence Program Advocate Fatma Zahra said of the work there, “The support groups and the Arts and Empowerment workshop that are taking place in Richmond Hill is Sakhi’s attempt to reach out to a community that has a large South Asian and Indo-Caribbean population which has limited access to resources and referrals in the neighborhood related to domestic violence. Sakhi is currently reaching out to community and faith institutions in Richmond Hill to spread the word about our work. Through information-giving presentations, Sakhi will not only inform the Richmond Hill community about what domestic violence is, but will also help community members access much-needed resources.”

In terms of breakdown by geography, the pattern largely replicated that seen in 2007, with a small increase in Queens. Queens continued to be the borough demonstrating the most demand (29.9%). Brooklyn comprised 8.3% of those reaching out, the Bronx, 6.2%, Manhattan, 4.7%, and Staten Island, 1.1%. A further 13% also contacted us from within New York City but did not specify a borough.

Showing Sakhi’s national and international reach, a number of survivors also contacted us from outside New York City. We received 11.5% of our requests from states beyond New York and New Jersey, 8.3% from New Jersey, 4% from New York State, 3.7% from South Asian countries, and 1.4% from non-South Asian countries. The location of 3% of those reaching out to us was unavailable.