In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. Since then, October has marked this important issue, celebrating survivors of domestic violence, mourning those who were lost and honoring individuals/ agencies who are steps to end violence against women by preventing violence, supporting women and advocating for social and cultural change to eliminate women’s vulnerability to violence.
Sakhi kicked off domestic violence awareness month with its Annual Gala, where it highlighted its programs that have empowered survivors, connected them to wide array of resources for self sufficiency and supported them as they seek to create a safe and secure lives for themselves and their children.
Our honoree for the night was Radhika Coomaraswamy, an internationally known human right advocate who has worked for the vulnerable and marginalized throughout the globe. She was the United Nations’ first Special Rapporteur on violence against women, a position she held for nearly a decade, during which time she was a tireless champion of women’s rights. As Special Rapporteur, her job was to investigate, monitor and recommend solutions for all forms of violence against women. In that capacity, she has traveled the world to investigate human rights violations, including India and Bangladesh regarding the trafficking of young girls, to Brazil for domestic violence and even the United States for women in prison. In that capacity she also submitted numerous reports to United Nations Commission on Human Rights to build awareness of violence in the family, violence in the community, violence against women during armed conflict and the problem of international trafficking.
In those reports, she analyzed and documented the intersections between various causes and consequences for violence against women. For example, she reported on the impact that certain cultural practices and their underlying roots of patriarchy, violence and control female sexuality are also those that underpin domestic violence. She also explored the linkages between race, gender and violence against women and the ways that violence against women contributes to violations of women’s reproductive rights.
Her body of work, as well as those of numerous other advocates throughout the globe and at home all contribute to a global movement to end violence against women. Sakhi’s work also strengthens this movement through recognizing and addressing the numerous causes and consequences of violence. Sakhi’s innovative programming, such as its Women’s Health Initiative, is also addressing the links between violence and reproductive decision-making. Sakhi’s community outreach and education seeks to challenge the stigma and prejudice that many survivors of violence face due to cultural practices and norms. Finally, Sakhi’s advocacy, that translates its expertise from working with individual women into local to global policy analysis and recommendations. It is because of our cutting-edge work that Sakhi has been, and will continue to be a leader in the eliminating violence against women in our communities and throughout the world.