Mengzhu Fu –
Following the double murder of Farhat Rana and Sidra Noor in Ranui last year, Shakti decided to initiate a campaign, in honour of Sidra Noor, to support children and young people living in violent homes.
On Thursday July 23, 2015, Shakti’s ‘Find Your Voice’ campaign was launched in Mt Roskill to the community, schools, government and non-government agencies with a range of speakers highlighting the importance of this campaign.
Sidra’s sister and Shakti Youth Ambassador Rida Noor was the main speaker at the event.
No family secret
“Ethnic children and young adults are expected to keep the domestic violence a family secret, they don’t even talk about it between themselves. They can feel completely abandoned and this is why the Find Your Voice campaign is so important. It will give them hope and encourage them to speak and get help,” she said.
She also explained why she got involved in this campaign.
“I just want to reach out to the youth that are experiencing violence to get help and break the silence. It’s okay to speak out. It’s okay to reach for help. You do not have to live with the abuse every day in your life.”
Other speakers at the launch included Shila Nair, a Shakti counsellor of Indian origin who has been working with children who witness violence for several years.
Speaking in the perspective of children, she said, “Witnessing is not just seeing, but hearing, feeling and experiencing that overwhelming sustained fear – that something terrible is about to happen,” she said.
“As parents, families and communities, we should remember that the onus of bearing the impact of abuse and violence should be on us and those who perpetrate it; and not rest with our children. Children also have rights, the right to be safe, the right to feel protected, the right to remain free of fear and having to witness adult violence.”
The ‘Find Your Voice’ launch was supported by Jan Logie (Green Party) and Jacinda Ardern (Labour Party).
“We do not have that much understanding of the impact of domestic violence on children in our society,” Ms Logie said, while Ms Ardern pointed to research on how witnessing violence is a traumatic experience that affects children’s brain development.
According to statistics, children are involved in 63% of all family violence incidents attended by the Police.
In Shakti’s online survey on migrant youth witnessing domestic violence, several respondents were Indian youth who had witnessed violence.
A 19-year-old described her experience, saying, “Father physically abused my mother when I was younger. When they argue now it consists of insults. When I tried stopping it, I felt scared and awkward,” she said.
With this campaign, Shakti hopes to bring attention to children and young people’s experiences of violence and empower young people to speak out and work towards breaking the cycle of inter-generational family violence.
The Find Your Voice campaign blog is findyourvoicenz.tumblr.com – ethnic youth are encouraged to submit their stories and get involved in this campaign.
Resources are available through Shakti and workshops are offered to high schools in Auckland. If you are experiencing or witnessing violence at home, you can call 0800-742584 to access culturally appropriate support.
Shakti Youth was formed in 2010 to bring together young people from Asian, Middle Eastern and African cultures passionate about social change and working towards violence-free futures in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
It is part of Shakti Legal Advocacy and Family Social Services Inc based in Manukau, Auckland.
The voice of the Campaign (Back Row from left) Shila Nair, Jan Logie, Vikash Prasad, Rishant Shankar, Manpreet Kaur, Mouri Karim (Front Row) Betty Sio, Mengzhu Fu, Sehar, Mehwish and Sabah Moughal