Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Southall Black Sisters need your support to avoid closure

In February, I wrote:....I've recently learned that the Southall Black Sisters, a resource centre for Asian & African Caribbean women facing violence and abuse in West London and an exemplar for such programmes around the world, is facing closure because their main funder will withdraw funding by April 2008. This centre has done extraordinary work in shelter, advocacy with the Asian-African-Caribbean diasporas, as well as leading campaigns against forced and child marriages. Their major funding source (Ealing Council) has decided to end specialist services or streamline, e.g. combine domestic violence services, even multi-ethnic resources are size fits all programming does not work in address domestic violence and abuse. Please go to the Southhall Black Sisters (SBS) link to learn more about this vital organization as well as how you can provide support by writing letters to their funder and donate-contact SBS.

Ironically, I learned about this potential closure on a day when Womensenews published a report and data on child-forced marriages, which includes many of the countries whose migrants receive services from Southall Black Sisters either in London and/or where women are forced into marriages with men-families who have migrated to London and elsewhere. Bangladesh is #3 on the list of forced-child marriages despite much funding of anti-child marriage programmes.

Please share this information and provide support and letters!

According to SBS information and from F-Word:

"The group is calling for supporters to contact the council and voice our discontent with this decision. The person to contact is:

Jason Stacey
Leader of Ealing Council
Ealing Town Hall
Uxbridge Road
W5 2BY

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Out Against Abuse blogsite

Also cross-posted in Bangladesh from Our View

As readers of this blog know, I have been very interested in issues of violence against women, in particular, domestic violence in Bangladesh and where ever Bangladeshi women migrate as students, wives, and family members as well as in the USA. I have encouraged readers to learn more and reach out to one another and give support to organizations within their own communities. I'm very excited by a new website, Out Against Abuse, started in January 2008 to educate and organize the South Asian community in USA against gender abuse-domestic violence through information, interviews with activists, and comments-participation by readers. Please go to this blogsite, bookmark it, and read through the posts to date. The most recent post is a very informative interview with Dr. Nusrat Ameen, law professor, activist, and author of Wife Abuse in Bangladesh: An Unrecognized Offence, UPL, 2005.

The co-founders, Sabrin Chowdhury, executive director and Raj Gupta, technology director, provide their mission statement. They looking for more interviews with activists, commentary on gender abuse, information about events and resources. You can contact Out Against Abuse:

In the following section, Sabrin Chowdhury writes about the purpose of Out Against Abuse:

Educating Our Community: Taking the First Step Against Gender Abuse

“Two out of five South Asian women have experienced partner violence, a rate disproportionately higher than that of other minority groups,” –

Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior which keeps one partner in a position of power over the other partner through the use of fear, intimidation, and control*,” and is an ongoing problem that continues to plague women from all around the world. South Asian women tend to suffer from problems of gender abuse at a much more severe rate than other races; however, the topic of domestic violence is one that is rarely discussed in the South Asian community.

The problem stems from the fact that many of us do not realize how vast the effects of abuse can be and how instances of domestic violence have a grave impact on many other problems in our community. Unfortunately domestic violence is not an issue of the past and is not limited to just rural and economically disadvantaged women in South Asian countries. More and more we hear about incidents of violence committed against highly educated and independent women. In many instances these women feel forced to stay in abusive relationships due to the societal stigma that comes from failed marriages or relationships and the lack of awareness of how to deal with domestic violence in general. Many people also wrongly believe abuse to only refer to physical violence. However, domestic abuse includes physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuse, creating an atmosphere of fear and despair for the victim.

I believe that the first step in putting an end to gender abuse is educating ourselves and our community. Out Against Abuse is a blog based website devoted to discussing the issues surrounding domestic violence and gender based abuse in the South Asian community. The blog will be updated with articles discussing key women’s issues and also with interviews conducted with various activists working to combat domestic abuse. This forum was created to increase awareness and discussion in the South Asian community about gender based abuse. The more we become conscious and educated about the issue, the harder we can work at ending violence against women. But for that we need your thoughts, comments, and collaboration to spread the word in our community.

With that, I leave you with the question: What actions can we exactly take to educate our community and put a stop to violence against women? Whether the impact is great or small, how can we all do our part to end violence?