To mark White Ribbon month, Shakti Family Centre held a half day conference on “creating safer, healthier and violence free communities,” with guest speakers, workshops on family violence, Asian and Middle Eastern cultural stalls, a presentation from Papatoetoe High School students and an exciting preview of a resource by Shakti Youth that will be launched early next year.
Mayor Phil Goff, MP Louisa Wall, University of Auckland Sociology lecturer David Mayeda as well as some members of the local police force and Puketapapa Board spoke at the conference. They all discussed the issue of domestic violence in Asian, Middle Eastern and African communities in Aotearoa and proposed ways to create safer communities.
Many of the speakers emphasised that “culture is not an excuse,” as well as advocated for more participation from men to actively stand up against family violence and violence towards women in general. Dr. David Mayeda concluded his speech:
“If we agree that we live in a patriarchal society, or that men hold more power in society, if that’s the case, then it is men who need to be stepping up, speaking out publicly against men’s violence against women and girls. Then in our ethnic communities, we have to find ways to talk about stopping honour-based violence. So I challenged all the men in this room to take up that role.”
Following the guest speakers, Shakti Youth presented a preview of an upcoming resource for migrant and refugee youth who have experienced family violence. The handbook, titled “Break Free,” is a resource designed to equip youth, who are experiencing or have broken free from family violence, with practical information on housing, immigration, work, governmental support, healthcare and more.
There is also a helpful guide on the different forms of abuse so that youth can recognise where it stops being a family conflict and where it crosses over to abuse. For example, emotional abuse and guilt-tripping can sound like this: “I am not getting good grades at school and my parents keep telling me that I am useless and need to do better, but this pressure is too much. They keep comparing me to my cousins and keep telling me how much they have sacrificed for me to be here and to have this education.”
The handbook features personal stories of family violence shared by ex-clients of Shakti, with short anecdotes written by volunteers scattered throughout the resource.
We hope that the practical information on New Zealand’s bureaucratic procedures and the personal stories will inspire and equip migrant and refugee youth with knowledge and hope in order to break free from family violence.
“But just the thought of leaving an abusive house gives you the strength to get through anything. The possibilities in the future are endless. You gain autonomy.” - Mehwish
Photo credit to Natalee Tan Yee Wei.