Shakti takes stand against violence

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014
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NOT OK: Shakti family centre co-ordinator Sara Daneshvar, left, and family mediation facilitator Liaqat Ali hope the release of a booklet will raise awareness about cross-cultural violence.

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Culture is no excuse for abuse and the Shakti Community Council is working to get the message out.

The non-profit organisation servicing migrant communities is hoping the release of a national resource will create awareness about different forms of family violence.

The Shakti council's national office is based in Henderson and offers domestic violence prevention, intervention and awareness services specifically for Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities.

They've partnered with the Ministry of Social Development's It's not OK campaign to release a special booklet which they hope will educate and promote awareness about cross cultural family relationships.

Culture: No excuse for abuse will be published in English and translated into Mandarin, Hindi and Farsi.

The book was officially released last Friday at a launch attended by Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett.

Family mediation facilitator Liaqat Ali says immigrant families can struggle with different cultural interpretations of what constitutes violence.

"A situation of conflict can be created in families where the parents identify with a culture and their New Zealand-raised children with another," he says.

"There's a very obvious clash between them.

"In some families or cultures the man is the head and whatever he says is the final word but here in New Zealand women have equal rights. This is when the struggle happens."

He believes more services or facilities should be available to help them adjust to Kiwi life.

The booklet will be a "window" for families or individuals who can learn their rights, he says.

Centre co-ordinator Sara Daneshvar says they hope to start a conversation about the various forms of violence and encourage people to ask for help if they need to.

"In our communities it's really hard to talk about it and a lot of us don't acknowledge that these things are abuse."

At the moment Shakti receives more than 600 calls per month from people seeking advice.

But Mr Ali says their services are under-funded with many staff volunteering time and resources just to keep the organisation going.

Initially 100 booklets will be printed but copies will be available to download online.

Visit itsnotok.org.nz or shakti.org.nz.

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