South Asians laud US law on violence against women

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 08, 2013 07:20 hrs

Washington, March 8 (IANS) South Asian organizations have welcomed a new US law that offers expanded protections for immigrants and other victims of domestic violence, gay rights advocates and Native Americans.

Representatives of several organisations, including South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Raksha, and Sakhi for South Asian Women, attended an event Thursday where President Barack Obama signed the reauthorisation of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

"This is your day. This is the day of the advocates, the day of the survivors. This is your victory," Obama said at the Interior Department ceremony. "This victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens."

Noting that in "the South Asian community, experiences of domestic violence are often exacerbated by cultural and linguistic barriers and immigration status," SAALT said: "For over two decades, VAWA has helped to protect survivors of domestic violence by providing them with meaningful choices, resources, and services,"

"In particular, VAWA greatly benefits immigrant survivors of domestic violence, including South Asians, by providing options towards securing immigration status without having to rely on their abusers," it said.

The law "offers new lifelines that will dramatically change the future of many South Asian survivors of domestic violence," said Lakshmi Aiyappa, Executive Director ASHA for Women.

Seema Agnani, Executive Director Chhaya said "the law provides meaningful support to the women we serve, their families and our communities."

"VAWA is lifeline for many of our clients, who would otherwise be separated from their children," said Sarah Khan, Executive Director Maitri

"The reauthorization of the VAWA is a triumph for organizations that focus on ending violence against women such as Manavi," the organisation said.

"The passage of VAWA is a wonderful victory for social justice movements across the board because violence against women impacts everyone directly or indirectly, said Preeti Shekar, Executive Director Narika.

"It is because of VAWA that Raksha can continue to serve the needs of South Asian survivors in Georgia," said Aparna Bhattacharya, Executive Director Raksha.

"This legislation expands access to services and options for domestic violence survivors and uniquely impacts immigrants, including South Asians," said Tiloma Jayasinghe, Executive Director Sakhi for South Asian Women.

"We all deserve to be safe, to live without fear of abuse or harm. Today, we are one step closer to that reality," said SAALT Executive Director Deepa Iyer.

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