Jersey City Silent March.
Since 2005 Manavi has commemorated Domestic Violence Awareness Month with an Annual March. On Saturday, October 14th 2006, Manavi staff, founding members and volunteers came together at the corner of Newark Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, New Jersey. Men and women marched in silence with banners and placards, unified in their belief that love does not translate into violence, raising awareness about the prevalence of violence against women in the South Asian community. The silent army made at least three rounds of Newark Avenue, the hub of South Asian activity in Jersey City, distributing flyers and information cards along the way. The North American edition of the daily newspaper, 'Indian Express,' covered the event.
The statistics of domestic violence against women remain staggering. Studies have proven that around the world, at least one out of three women has experienced violence and abuse. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, in 2001 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence were women. According to the Commonwealth Fund Survey nearly one-third of women in the US are physically or sexually abused by their husbands or boyfriends at some point in their lives. While research data on Violence Against Women in the South Asian community is limited, a study conducted in the Greater Boston area in 2000 showed that over 40% of 160 South Asian women were victims of intimate partner violence. In the year 2005, Manavi assisted 296 women--from January 2006 till November 2006, 268 women have contacted us for assistance.
The statistics stated above are dismal reminders that there is still a dire need for awareness of the crime of violence perpetrated against women on worldwide, national and communal levels. In the South Asian community silence still prevails around this issue. There are still too many of us unaware of our rights, and far too many of us eager to exploit that lack of awareness. Manavi's Silent March challenged that silence and exploitation and aimed for a healthier South Asian community. It is a protest against the violence and abuse meted out towards South Asian women in the US and we are confident that we reached many in the course of our March this year. Every flyer distributed and every information card offered served as an opening to discuss and acknowledge the problem and provided opportunities for relief. Some stared at us, others avoided us or stopped us to ask questions about our services. Each person who stopped to inquire and get information was a dent in the wall of silence that our communities have created around the issue of violence against women.
With this conviction and with renewed hope we strive to reach out to all the members of our South Asian community; the Silent March offers us a convenient platform to do so. It also gives the members of our community an opportunity to show their support and solidarity in ending violence against women. We really hope to see more feet marching beside ours at next year's March, so please do join us!