Campaign against Family Violence discussed

The Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) conducted a workshop recently with the New Zealand Police, Settling In (Ministry of Social Development), Auckland Council and the Waitakere Taskforce on Family Violence to take action against Family Violence.

The Workshop, held at the Kelston Community Centre last month, attracted 75 people representing a cross-section of the community. It raised awareness on family violence and gave an overview of the issue in New Zealand.

Pundit Devakar Prasad, an Indo Fijian priest, said that people who went as indentured labourers from India to Fiji (1879-1919) subsisted in horrendous living and working conditions and inherited a political system that gave little security.

“Because of our past insecurity and turbulent history, we tend to stick together and did little to mix around. We still carry rituals and practices, which are possibly irrelevant today,” he said.

Labour MP Dr Rajen Prasad said that Indo-Fijians were successful in some areas, but needed improvement in others.

“Family Violence is also a problem among Indo Fijians, which must be discussed and solved,” he said.

Constables Anil Kumar (Counties Manukau Police), Wells Albert Ethnic Peoples Community Relations Officer (Waitakere Police), Rakesh Naidoo, Ethnic Advisor, New Police based in Wellington, Manju Verma (Child Youth and Family) and Jenny Janiff (Ministry of Social Development) were among the speakers.

The empowering process came when the attendees were divided into six smaller groups for a brainstorming session.

Effective action

The sessions revealed that family violence should be tackled effectively with zero tolerance, raising awareness among the members of the community and encouraging victims to speak up and seek the advice of the police and other support agencies.

Pundit Prasad sought a change in our approach and attitude and promised to work with WIA to bring about the change.

According to some participants, “It was a pity that priests from other Hindu organisations and temples failed to attend the workshop despite being invited. They must rise from their current role of merely conducting hawans, narrating abstract mythological literature and reciting mantras and participate in addressing larger issues such as family violence.”

Key messages

The Workshop agreed to promote the “Family Violence – It is not Ok’ and ‘It is Ok to ask for help’ campaigns of the Families Commission. The delegates also agreed to use the media for promoting campaigns against family violence and other issues of the community.

The key message was acknowledgement of the problem, accompanied by information that WIA would be a key community player in promoting these messages through posters and awareness in its events.

The Workshop also recommended WIA to support the White Ribbon Campaign.

The feedback from the workshop spoke volumes for the collaborative organisers, with hugely positive feedback at over ninety per cent approval level. This augers well as a joint project, and remains a forerunner to finding solutions to other social issues.

Thakur Ranjit Singh champions a number of social and community causes. He chaired the Workshop mentioned in the above article. Email: thakurji@xtra.co.nz

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