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Raksha Symposium Addresses Violence, Proposes Solutions

April 2004
Raksha Symposium Addresses Violence, Proposes Solutions

Raksha, the Atlanta-based non-profit organization that works to benefit the South Asian community, held a reception, panel, and series of workshops at Agnes Scott College on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13 to discuss the role of community in addressing family violence.

The symposium began on Friday with a dialogue around violence prevention and South Asian-specific solutions with a compelling panel comprised of Melindah Sharma, founding member of the South Asian Coalition Against Violence and the former executive director of Prevention, Empowerment and Community Education, Grace Poore, creator of the documentary "The Children We Sacrifice," and Anneliese Singh, therapist and mental health advocate in Atlanta. More than 60 participants were engaged in the discussion that covered survivor support and community responsibility, the impact of trauma specific to immigrant populations and the role of the bystander in interrupting cycles of violence, including incest.

The Kaya Collective followed with an art and activism segment using visual imagery, spoken word, and sound.

"It was a heartening gathering. Our community cares and wants to do something proactive about family violence and sexual assault," said Priyanka Sinha, Raksha's community outreach director. "There is commitment, vision, and motivation around the much-needed conversation on community-based solutions to these forms of violence."

A series of workshops were held on Saturday and more than 20 participants took part in each session. The day started with a screening of Grace Poore's "The Children We Sacrifice." It was followed by a facilitated discussion on incest in the South Asian community.

Throughout the day there were opportunities to get involved in the work of building leadership in ending violence. Raksha's community building and community accountability models were discussed. There were also presentations on the role of men in challenging violence and the tendency to protect perpetrators in cases of sexual assault and stalking.

The symposium also looked at ways to engage participants in finding solutions to building leadership and promoting justice, specifically around taboo topics such as sexual assault.

"The symposium was a dream come true and I'm really grateful to the Ms. Foundation for providing the funding and support to start these very important dialogues," said Aparna Bhattacharyya, Raksha's executive director.

Other groups that supported the symposium included ANIC Catering, the Muslim Students Association at Agnes Scott College, Kaya Collective, and a host of community members who committed their time and energies.

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