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Immigrant Day Higlights Domestic Violence Story


04/11/2012

On Monday April 9th, Sujata Ghosh, CBS Manager; Dipanwita Bhattacharyya, Ed and Outreach Manager; South Asian Vietnamese advocate, Binh Pham; Advocates Rukmini Karki and Purnima Sahgal, along with a couple of our South Asian clients joined MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition) for Immigrants Day sponsored by them at the State House.

The team was led by Purnima who had everyone go in ghungat (Hindi word which describes a veil or headscarf worn by Indian women to cover their head, and often their face. Generally a pallu (the loose end of a sari) is pulled over the head to act as a ghunghat. A dupatta (long scarf) is sometimes used as a ghungat), as a symbol of alliance for the survivors of domestic violence. Her message behind the ghungat is the hope that together we will make a difference and to effect this change through our voices and action in our communities so we can walk freely without fear or shame, holding our heads high and no longer having to hide behind our ghunghat.

Purnima’s client from India was one of the speakers sharing her story. She spoke in Punjabi her native tongue, with Purnima doing the translation.

Welcoming remarks were given by State Senator, Sal DiDomenico. The keynote speaker was Veronica Turner-Biggs, Executive Vice President 1199 SEIE, MA Region.

U.S. Senate Candidates Elizabeth Warren (Consumer Advocate), Attorney Marisa DeFranco (D) and Bill Cimbrello (I) were the forum speakers.

Mass State Treasurer, Steven Grossman was also one of the speakers. The morning was well attended by over 200 immigrants inside the Gardner Auditorium, whilst another 150+ stood outside. Many members of the legislature were also present.

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Survivors Story:

Good morning.

Thank you for this privilege to speak in front of you all today.I came to the US in 2007 with my husband. I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. He used to beat me, torture me emotionally and abused me in every conceivable way.

I suffered alone. My abuse was so brutal I cannot bring myself to share the whole story with you today. I was completely alone in this foreign land and did not know who to turn to and where I could find refuge.Then a friend told me about the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence. I called their helpline and found refuge in their shelter. For the last 4 years, my advocates at the TASK force have been my allies and my support.

They have helped me get my own place to live in through the Boston Housing Authority, I have taken ESOL classes at their office and two years ago I was able to get a U-visa through their help and the legal assistance of GBLS.Today I am working towards getting my GED. My greatest wish, when I accomplish my goals with education is that I would like to work with the task force and help others like they helped me.I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their support.

I hope our legislators will support funding for the RISE programs so programs like the Asian Task Force across the state can continue the work that they do for people like me.Thank you all for listening to me today.

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Purnima :As Ms. Kumari’s advocate, I would like to add that she has not seen her family in India since her arrival here in 2007. She has an ailing mother who she would really like to see. Although she now has a U-visa, and we are deeply grateful to the Violence Against Women’s Act that enables a survivor to get this type of visa, this visa does not allow for travel back and fro from the US until she has her green card. This process is possible after being on a U-visa for three years when she can apply for a green card and this could then take another year to 18 months before it comes through. Our hope is that this can be changed.





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photo courtesy:Mario Quiroz.




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