TO break the silence on domestic violence, Mannu Sandhu and Jessie Lehail in community partnership with SFU Surrey have organized Meri Awaaz (My Voice). Meri Awaaz takes place on March 8 at Simon Fraser University, Surrey Campus. The event is a public engagement workshop / symposium that aids in awareness, focused dialogue, and empowerment on the topic of abuse and South Asian women, and collaboratively brings together various stakeholders.
“Domestic violence isn’t about any one socio-economic or ethnic group, this is about all of us. However, since Mannu and I are both South Asian, we felt it was our responsibility to create dialogue and collaboration within our own community,” said Lehail, Meri Awaaz co-organizer. “We want this event to be a catalyst to break the silence and stigma associated with domestic violence.”
Domestic violence killed 113 women in B.C. from 2004 to 2014, according to the province, and there were more than 12,300 police-reported victims of intimate partner violence throughout the province in 2013. Domestic violence is still the most pervasive forms of violence against women and continues to be perpetrated in their homes by the people they love.
“Women’s issues are human issues. Far-reaching concerns like gender equality, education, and access to markets affect men and women alike at work, home, and in our communities,” said Sandhu, Meri Awaaz co-organizer
Meri Awaaz occurring on International Women’s Day is no coincidence. The day provides a powerful way to advocate for greater action and investment towards domestic violence. By joining forces with local experts and organization in the Lower Mainland, Meri Awaaz aims to leverage the collective resources to amplify discussion about domestic violence through various lenses.
Event panelists include Amman Barmi of Genesis – Family Empowerment; Corporal Yvette Leboulch – RCMP Domestic Violence Unit; Vera LeFrance – City of Surrey Councillor; Dr. Balbir Kaur Gurm – NEVR; Neha Huggins, support worker – Surrey Women’s Centre; Barinder Rasode, who is on the Board of Directors of Fraser Health; and Gorsharen Dosange, SFU student and change advocate.
Moderators of event: Stephen Dooley Executive Director of Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Lehail.
“We believe by sharing expertise, advocates and legislators can end domestic violence. We need to come together as a community with various stakeholders – inform and connect all those concerned with this issue, because together we’re stronger,” said Lehail.
The Meri Awaaz event will identify the ways in which culture shapes women’s responses to gender-based violence and their ability to find safety and security for themselves and their children; examine how South Asian women negotiate rights for themselves and their children when seeking services and support related to gender-based violence; work with community stakeholders to find collaborative solutions to help South Asian women.
There is no cost to attend, but donations are being collected for Surrey Women’s Centre. Anyone interested in the topic of domestic violence is encouraged to attend.
Event: Meri Awaaz (My Voice) on International Women’s Day
When: 1-4 p.m., Sunday, March 8
Where: Room 2600 at Simon Fraser University, 250, 13450 –102nd Avenue, Surrey
The one day event is now accepting RSVPs: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meri-awaaz-my-voice-international-womens-day-event-tickets-15735130198
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