Speaking Up, Speaking Out...
Against Domestic Violence

An awareness and visibility project around issues of domestic violence in various communities.


The Explanation

About this Project:

As the subtitle explains, this is an awareness and visibility project. I took on this task as my final project in the SWG (Study of Women & Gender) seminar I'm taking at Smith this semester (Spring 2006), "Redefining Community: South Asian Women's Cultural Production." As the title implies, the course itself revolved around South Asian cultures, both in the geographical location of South Asia (India, Pakistan, etc.) and in the South Asian diasporas in the UK and the US. In the context of this class, we discussed domestic violence and rape in South Asian communities, and I was struck by the lack of culturally-sensitive services in the diaspora and by the lack of any widespread, effective services in South Asian countries. This led me to think about the silence(s) around all forms of domestic violence and violence against women, the structures that support and perpetuate these silences, and the ways that these silences may be broken - not just in South Asia and the diaspora, but in every part of the world. I decided that these silences must be broken, and that I wanted to be a part of helping that to happen. (And if I can get academic credit for it, too, all the better.)

The Project (Logistics).
This project will, then, consist of stories that have been emailed to me at the address listed in the sidebar (below the Important Note). I will edit these stories only to ensure that they fit the formatting of this blog. The space of hir post will be hir safe space, and my part in this will only be to provide and facilitate this space. Out of concern for maintaining this blog as a safe space, then, I will be moderating comments.

I will also add to the resources listed on the sidebar as the project progresses, and will link to relevant resources based on the circumstances of the stories that get shared. In addition, there will be some posts to which I will attach a companion post including an annotated bibliography of a scholarly source relevant to the story told in the post.

The choice of venue.
The internet is (or at least, has the potential to be) a worldwide forum. Yes, there are tons of accessibility issues - who has access, when, and how - but out of all the publishing contexts that are currently available, the internet, I think, is the most accessible and far-reaching. And so I decided to bring my visibility and awareness project here, where it could (potentially) reach the most people and allow the most diverse group of people to share their stories.

A note on methodologies.
I acknowledge that this is not entirely unproblematic. First, the issues around accessibility will inevitably erase a number of stories. The fact that I am providing a space for these stories to be told, too, is worrisome, and I fear that as much as I try not to, I may end up appropriating these people's stories by virtue of my privilege in creating and maintaining this space. The language limitation, too, based on my own limitations, is an issue, since I myself am not bilingual (I speak a very small amount of French), and the rest of the world is not universally English-speaking.
I hope, however, that my awareness of these issues, and other issues that arise, will move toward making these issues slightly less problematic.

To explain why I took on this project in the first place, why I am part of this fight against domestic violence and violence against women, I'll end with this, a poem by Ntozake Shange (a poet/playwright/author/professor at the University of Florida)

from nappy edges (1978):

with no immediate cause

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a
woman is raped/every ten minutes
a lil girl is molested
yet i rode the subway today
i sat next to an old man who
may have beaten his old wife
3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago
he might have sodomized his
daughter but i sat there
cuz the young men on the train
might beat some young women
later in the day or tomorrow
i might not shut my door fast
every 3 minutes it happens
some woman's innocence
rushes to her cheeks/pours from her mouth
like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn
apart/their mouths
menses red & split/every
three minutes a shoulder
is jammed through plaster and the oven door/
chairs push thru the rib cage/hot water or
boiling sperm decorate her body
i rode the subway today
& bought a paper from a
man who might
have held his old lady onto
a hot pressing iron/i don't know
maybe he catches lil girls in the
park & rips open their behinds
with steel rods/i can't decide
what he might have done i only
know every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so
i bought the paper
looking for the announcement
the discovery/of the dismembered
woman's body/the
victims have not all been
identified/today they are
naked and dead/refuse to
testify/one girl out of 10's not
coherent/i took the coffee
& spit it up/i found an
announcement/not the woman's
bloated body in the river/floating
not the child bleeding in the
59th street corridor/not the baby
broken on the floor/
there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder their
husbands & lovers with no
immediate cause"

i spit up i vomit i am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day
women's bodies are found
in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs
before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink
coffee/i must know/
have you hurt a woman today
did you beat a woman today
throw a child across a room
are the lil girl's panties
in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today
i have to ask these obscene questions
the authorities require me to
immediate cause
every three minutes
every five minutes
every ten minutes
every day.