VIOLENCE: Mothers & Daughters group looks to break cycle of abuse against immigrant women

By LARISSA CAHUTE, VANCOUVERDESI.COM

When Suki Grewal worked as a community nurse in South Vancouver she saw a number of battered and timid South Asian women come through hospital doors.

“Sometimes these poor women — they’re new in the country, they don’t know who to turn to,” Grewal, now President of the South Asian Family Association, told Vancouverdesi.com. “Domestic  violence or violence against women happens in every culture, but when you’re a minority you’re targeted more by the media or by the society.”

“We need to make these girls understand that’s not the life you want to lead …there is a life that’s really good.”

So Grewal created the Women’s Empowerment Series: Mothers & Daughters – a dinner gathering for women to help them get around issues of violence. Sunday Oct. 21 marks the fourth event of the series.

“We need to encourage more of these women to come forward,” said Grewal. “Create an atmosphere where they feel safe to talk about it.”

“And we only can do it through educating the women and community to be able to assert themselves and be able to speak up for themselves.”

The event creates a relaxing atmosphere where women can come to destress with  a night of socializing and dancing.

They have a few brief speakers, including a social scientist talking about how women can use spirituality to deal with stress — to go with this year’s theme “illuminate your inner diva.”

There’s also service providers from various outreach groups and programs, as well as art, jewelry and clothing. And this year they’ve added a “So You Think You Can Dance” competition.

“We try to do (the event) the way women like it,” said Grewal. “Women are out for the evening just to destress — it’s their way of dealing with things. There’s no men there, no liquor — just dinner and a short talk and then we let them do their own thing.”

Grewal is hoping to empower “the everyday women who are new immigrants, who are stuck in their homes.”

“To get to those women we had to come up with the ways that suit themselves and it’s always in a gathering of women only where they can let go,” she said.

The ladies-only event takes place on Oct. 21 at the Fraserview Banquet Hall in Vancouver. Visit www.safa.ca for more information.

lcahute@theprovince.com

twitter.com/larissacahute





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