Sakhi celebrates 3 decades of service, advocacy for South Asian women

Indrani Goradia, activist, philanthropist and founder of Indrani's Light Foundation and Tarana Burke, the woman behind the viral ‘MeToo’ movement, were honored on May 3 Sakhi for South Asian Women’s annual gala at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan.

Sakhi, New York City’s first South Asian American women’s organization that combats domestic and sexual violence, celebrated three decades of service and advocacy.

‘Top Chef’ host and celebrated author, chef and model and ACLU Artist Ambassador for immigrants’ rights and women’s rights Padma Lakshmi served as the honorary chair of the gala. Other honorees included Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” and activist Amanda Nguyen, CEO of Rise and Mayuri Veda, thriver and peer advocate.

“It is an honor to bring together these powerful leaders in the movement to end violence against women for Sakhi’s 30th anniversary celebration,” Sakhi’s executive director Kavita Mehra. Said. “They share our belief in uplifting the voices and power of survivors of violence and are role models for all of us at Sakhi.”

Sakhi celebrates 3 decades of service, advocacy for South Asian women

Mehra said the organization raises nearly half of its annual budget at the annual gala. “This year we have an ambitious goal of raising $600,000, which will support Sakhi’s critical work in crisis intervention, mental health counseling, as well as help us launch our new transitional-housing program,” she said.

Goradia’s Indrani’s Light Foundation is dedicated to improving the level of care for domestic-violence survivors. In 2013, Goradia joined forces with global health organizations, the PSI Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lift women and girls out of poverty. “As an advocate and survivor, I have dedicated my life to uplifting the voices and power of survivors across the globe, and I am deeply honored to receive this award for Sakhi for South Asian Women’s 30th anniversary celebration,” Goradia said. “Indrani's Light and Sakhi are inextricably linked in a movement fighting for justice for all survivors of violence.”

For over 25 years, Burke has worked to increase access to resources for communities affected by sexual violence and racial injustice. Burke said “‘Me Too’ was born from a need to center black and brown girls in the movement to end sexual assault.”

According to the Sakhi website, two in five South Asian women experience domestic violence compared to one in four in the general population. Through crisis management, safety planning, job training, counseling, and more, the organization said, it works with South Asian survivors of violence and sexual assault to achieve safety and independence.

Sakhi also works with different communities and institutions to end domestic violence. It leads grassroots workshops that destigmatize taboos around domestic violence in South Asian communities and trains doctors, law enforcement officers, and other frontline providers to treat South Asian survivors with greater cultural sensitivity.

Founded in 1989 by a group of five South Asian women – Anannya Bhattacharjee, Mallika Dutt, Tula Goenka, Geetanjali Misra, and Romita Shetty – who were from diverse professional fields such as banking, film, law, and public health, Sakhi, meaning “woman friend,” was created to fill a critical need — in spite of an abundance of religious and cultural centers, professional associations, and ethnic-specific groups within New York’s large South Asian immigrant population, there was no place for women to address the silenced subject of domestic violence. Through Sakhi’s efforts to serve survivors and mobilize community members to condemn abuse, Sakhi has changed the conversation on domestic violence in the community.

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