By Gina Martinez
The family of Stacy Singh, a mother of two who was killed in her Richmond Hill home, made an emotional plea to the community to stand up for victims of domestic violence at a vigil in Ozone Park.
Jahajee Sisters, a Queens-based nonprofit that supports Indo-Carribean women, organized a Vigil and Speak Out Monday at Bhuvaneshwar Mandir in Ozone Park. The event, attended by community members and Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), featured a moment of silence, a poetry performance and a panel discussion about the effects of domestic violence. Jahajee Sisters said the vigil was an opportunity for the community to mourn Singh and many other women who have lost their lives as a result of gender-based violence.
On New Year’s Day, Singh, 26, became the city’s first homicide victim of 2018. Police said she was fatally stabbed by her abusive husband, Vinny Loknath, who apparently committed suicide soon after. The couple left behind a 5-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.
In one of the more emotional moments of the vigil, Singh’s family, barely holding back tears, went up to the podium, thanked everyone for support and spoke out against staying silent.
“This is all so fresh,” Singh’s aunt Ramona Latsis said. “You read about domestic violence, but it is so different when you’re directly impacted. You think about what you could have done and how we could have prevented it. We want to stop this from happening to other women.”
According to Singh’s aunt, police told the family that since Singh’s killing, more women suffering from domestic violence have come forward and are looking to divorce their husbands.
“It makes us feel like she did not die in vain,” she said. “Awareness will help women to leave. Please don’t stay because of the kids, leave because of them.
“People who know about domestic abuse always say, ‘They’ll figure it out, it’s their business and you don’t get involved in husband-and-wife affairs.’ But this is the outcome when you don’t speak up. By staying silent, we’re helping abusers hurt our loved ones more.”
She said the family’s main focus now was the two orphaned children.
“For Stacy, it’s the end of her journey, but for us, we have to figure out what’s best for the kids. I’m not used to being in a community where everyone is involved, so to see everyone here, it’s overwhelming. We can’t do this alone. On the behalf of my family, we just want to say thank you, being here for us.”
Councilwoman Adams offered her condolences to the Singh family and promised the community that she would be an advocate for women.
“My heart is heavy today, and I thank everyone for being here for this important meeting,” she said. “There should have never been a Stacy situation. As a woman of color, I understand what it is when you have to be quiet. I understand when the pressure gets so hard, you feel like you’re by yourself, I understand secrets.
“Although I’ve been through this, I’ve never been physically abused. I understand mental abuse, and I know any type of abusive situation causes you to feel shame, causes you to draw inwardly, and it causes tremendous loneliness.”
Adams said that as the first woman to represent the 28th District, she will commit to be a voice for women, but that they have to take advantage of the resources available.
“We have to speak out about these issues,” she said. “It does no one any good to be silent. Silence kills. Sisters, hold on to each other. You have resources. You have places you can go to when you’re in trouble, organizations that will take you in and listen to you. You have an outlet. Use them.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart