Women to march on Parliament

GETTING READY: Shakti New Zealand is taking part in the March to Change New Zealand’s Shame on September 15 in Wellington.
Karina Abadia
GETTING READY: Shakti New Zealand is taking part in the March to Change New Zealand’s Shame on September 15 in Wellington.

Shakti New Zealand has a clear message: domestic violence is not to be tolerated.

That's why the organisation, which provides support services for Asian, African and Middle Eastern women and children, is joining the Women's Refuge-led protest March to Change New Zealand's Shame in Wellington on Monday.

About 70 members from Shakti centres in Auckland, Tauranga, Dunedin, Christchurch, and the soon-to-be-launched Wellington branch, will join the march to Parliament.

Shakti international development co-ordinator Shasha Ali is the spokesperson for the organisation, which has an Asian women's centre in Onehunga.

It's a concern that the rate of violence against migrant women and children appears to be increasing, she said.

From July 2013 to June 2014 the Shakti national crisis line service exceeded 10,000 calls. This marks the highest call volume since the service was restructured in 2011.

Shakti New Zealand was created in 1995 to address the need for culturally appropriate services, Ali said.

Ethnic women have different cultural backgrounds and a different understanding of domestic violence. Language barriers and a lack of knowledge of existing services can be barriers for women seeking support, she said.

"Our philosophy is about social change led by migrant refugee women for migrant refugee women. The responsibility to make change happen within our communities has to be driven by our people."

Shakti advocates for greater protection of the rights of women who are facing any kind of domestic abuse.

This includes culturally sanctioned forms of abuse such as forced marriage, dowry-related violence, child and underage marriage as well as honour-based violence.

Monday's march also seeks to advance the fight against ending sexual violence, which is not widely talked about or addressed in ethnic communities, Ali said.

She urges ethnic women facing domestic violence to call the 24-hour Shakti New Zealand crisis line on 0800 742 584.

Go to shakti.org.nz

Central Leader