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Two immigrant women’s lives lost, Government still silent

Monday 2 December 2013

Sub: Two immigrant women’s lives lost, two children lost their mum, Government still silent.

In November, 2 Asian migrant women were violently murdered in Wellington, both it is known were victims of domestic violence. One was Mei Fan, mother of 2 children. The most recent was Sarwan Lata Singh, who was stabbed in her own home. Both had protection orders against their abusers.

The very fact that this is happening in the capital city of New Zealand is a national embarrassment and tragedy to New Zealand society as a whole.

Shakti Community Council Inc. specialises in dealing with high risk cases of immigrant ethnic women in domestic violence since 1995. The severities of cases we face include threats of honour killing, dowry-related violence, sexual violence, forced marriage and life-threatening cases of domestic violence.

While today, we have 2 refuges in Auckland, 1 in Christchurch and 1 in Bay of Plenty, we have struggled to get support and funding to establish critical services for our women in Wellington.

We have a mere one-room drop-in centre in Wellington, run predominantly by volunteers.

Between 2011-2012 alone, Shakti Wellington as a drop-in outreach service, catered to over 300 women and children. To date, we have received over 400 referrals, queries and counting.

Shakti Ethnic Women’s Support Group Wellington Inc. is not funded by the Ministry of Social Development/ Child Youth & Family, who are the core department in ensuring the safety of vulnerable children and women. Wellington City Council gives little or no support for our specialist intervention services. We receive absolutely no funding for case-management for the countless hours of work that we do 24/7. The lack of resources is even more problematic considering the complexity of the issues women who come to us are experiencing.

We have been advocating for the establishment of our own culturally-specialist and appropriate safe house and critical violence intervention services for Asian, African and Middle Eastern women and children, for over 3 years now.

As an organisation led by ethnic for ethnic, we believe that this is the missing link and strategy in ensuring the safety of those vulnerable in Wellington is met.

Mainstream agencies are not responsible for the issues stemming from the communities that we come from. They lack the specialist knowledge and skills required to service ethnic women. This is the responsibility for us to protect our own women, children, young people and families to speak out against abuse and reach out for help before it’s too late. And we need the support from Local and Central Government to enable us to sustain and service victim-survivors before it’s too late.

Enough is enough. We are seeking a cross-party response including the Opposition Parties on this issue.

We want to see:
·         * This and next government to include Migrant & Refugee Women and Children’s Safety Needs a Priority
·        *  Funding of essential and critical domestic violence intervention services, including a specialist safehouse for migrant and refugee women and children in Wellington
·         * Pressure on the existing Government to address this pre-existing gap in Wellington’s social services sector

Related Links:

Case for Sarwan Lata Singh: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9463790/Slain-woman-planned-trip-abroad

Case for Mei Fan: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/9448562/Murder-victims-family-shocked

Shakti Community Council Inc.: http://shakti.org.nz

ENDS

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