Marching For Domestic Violence Awareness Month – QNS.com

Marching For Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Over 50 young Korean-Americans, along with Councilman John Liu, community activists, and a representative of the mayor, marched silently through the streets of Flushing Friday, October 8 to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"The march is to raise awareness among Korean-Americans and other ethnic communities," said Julia Kwon, a development associate for the Korean American Family Service Center, the principal organizer of the event. The Center offers bilingual crisis intervention services, counseling and support groups. According to Kwon, in the Korean-American community, "there’s such a huge stigma against domestic violence, and a huge stigma against getting social service help."
Speakers who addressed the crowd at the end of the march in front of the Flushing Library focused on the need to reach out to immigrants who aren’t aware of the services available to domestic violence victims, or in some cases do not realize domestic violence is considered a crime in the United States.
"Abuse at home is terrifying for anyone," said Connie Pankratz, a project director from the mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. "That fear is compounded for an immigrant who cant speak English."
She added that the mayors office had recently introduced a new program that allows police officers to call into a phone system that offers translation services for 150 languages. The system allows police to better communicate with immigrant crime victims, and is already in place in Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst. The translation service will be introduced to Flushing and College Point precincts soon.
Korean-American community organizations are not alone in their struggle to educate immigrants about their rights as domestic violence victims.
Community activist Ralph Moreno, a Colombian immigrant and director of the Jackson Heights Action Group, has partnered with the Yolanda Jimenez, commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence, to launch an information campaign in primarily Spanish-speaking neighborhoods in Queens. They are trying to get out the message that the police and the government is on the side of victims, even if they are undocumented immigrants.
"Domestic violence has no bias by race, color or nationality," said Moreno. "Women get abused…and the worst part is that many times there are children."
Moreno hopes their information campaign will encourage more victims to seek help, but he says much more needs to be done to educate victims of domestic violence in Queens.
Kwon said Friday’s march was just the beginning of a year-long series of similar events to broaden awareness of domestic violence services in Queens. Hilary Seo, from Sanctuary for Families, emphasized the marchs main message in a speech at the end of the march, "If you feel youre in danger, its ok to call the police, regardless of your immigration status."
E-mail this reporter at sarah@queenscourier.com.

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