The Voice for South Asians affected by Family Violence | August 2023
A Message from the BoardDear Supporters,
Hope everyone is staying safe from this scorching summer heat. Awaaz has had an unrelentingly, driven, and highly productive season, with our back to back events, several clients with diverse needs, new volunteers, and Board members’ orientations. We continue to devise new training formats for volunteers and client advocates, and expand the existing ones. We held our two hour in-person training session recently. We have also successfully continued to forge relationships with new legal, advocacy and law enforcement organizations, and strengthen our resource base. Outreach is critical to sustaining and growing Awaaz. It’s about connecting, networking, finding resources, educating, and sharing our message. Everyday has been a learning experience and we are all the more enriched by our whirlwind of a spring season. This has also been the season when many supporters have come forward with ideas and resources to expand and enhance Awaaz such as holding fundraisers for us, to advancing our educational and networking strategies. Please see the Events page below for details.
We are immensely grateful to our Advisor, Lopita Nath, for hosting a cultural fundraiser for us on May 21, 2023. Lopita, the students, and gurus of her Rhythmosaic Kathak dance school, worked hard for weeks to put together a stunning show for a great cause. We also had numerous events these past few months both within our South Asian community and other local communities such as the UTSA Asian Festival, World Refugee Day, and India Independence Day. Please see Past Events section below for pictures.
We are grateful to have received a grant through the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender Based Violence (APIGBV)’s Support for Survivor’s program. Besides helping us make important hires, grants enable us to help our clients financially for rent, food, medical and school supplies, career/job specific courses, and college tuition. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing these incredible survivors empowered and ready to claim their basic human right to a dignified and healthy life.
We are thrilled to announce that Jinny Suh has joined the Awaaz team as our Executive Director. Jinny comes with very impressive credentials and years of leadership experience in various organizations in legal and management capacities. Please see Events section for an intro. We would also like to extend a warm welcome to our new Board members Jane Shafer, Purvi Patel and Durga Suryadevara and enthusiastic volunteers including: Mona Munro, Jayanta Das, Vinod Nandlal, Subathra Devi, Rupal Patel, Emma Patel, Dev Patel, Lichi Patel, Isha Patel, Amaya Patel and Farzana Khatak Escobar. As we have said before and cannot reiterate enough, our volunteers are our strongest assets and we are eternally grateful for them.
Thank you for your interest and support of Awaaz. Please contact us to find out more about us and what we do.
Events - What's been happening?
A message from Jinny Suh:
Dear Awaaz Network,
My name is Jinny Suh and I am so delighted to be your new Executive Director. I have a long history as a Board member of AFSSA (Asian Family Support Services of Austin) in Austin and I have a lot of experience in the nonprofit world. I am excited to work towards broadening Awaaz's reach and solidifying and expanding upon its mission as we move into the future. My professional experience is an amalgamation of working as an attorney, acting as an operations professional, and in general, doing the work that will put good out into the world. If you would ever like to chat with me to express your thoughts, desires, or hopes for Awaaz, please feel free to reach out. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to serve in such an important role.
Human Trafficking Seminar
We were happy to have had the University of Texas in San Antonio Political Science and Geography Departments on May 6, 2023 co-host an important educational seminar with us on human trafficking and exploitation of children both in India, US, and the world. We are looking forward to partnering with them in future to continue raising awareness about human rights abuses that neglected and marginalized people of the world endure. We are also looking forward to partnering with other educational institutions in the near future in our efforts to educate the public about DV and its domino effect. We are very grateful to our community member, artiste, women’s rights activist and journalist Sheela Ramanan for attending and participating in the event and also for writing an article on Awaaz and the event in the Chennai based online newspaper DINMALAR. Click here for article.
Texas Coalition for Survivors
Two Awaaz board members, Tapasi and Jyotsna attended a meeting in Austin on February 13, 2023, to form a coalition of organizations in Texas who support survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. The coalition partners with AFSSA (Asian Family Support Services of Austin) , TMWF (Texas Muslim Women’s Federation), Mosaic and Awaaz to discuss common concerns and goals of Asian survivors of IPV and policy and legislative advancement, collective working/sharing resources, and help disseminate information as policy is changed. In particular, we discussed the need to support each other as there is a rapidly growing Asian population in Texas that is recognized as a voting power.
Over the past six months, the coalition has continued to meet once a month virtually to discuss legislative issues of concern to IPV survivors that are supported by FVPS. The continued engagement with lawmakers on issues of concern to IPV survivors is needed to have access to immigration, language, and mental health resources for victims and survivors.
Ami's Corner for Legal Empowerment
Mediation and Family Violence
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process by which parties can settle their disputes with the assistance of a qualified mediator. If a settlement is reached, the mediator helps parties write an agreement. Some courts in Texas require mediation in a divorce case. A court can order a case to mediation on its own motion or by agreement of both parties. See link below for Texas Family Code 6.602(a).
How do I request mediation?
File a motion for mediation.
File a proposed order on motion for referral for mediation.
Give a copy of the motion and order to the attorney or the other party if not represented.
The Court will appoint a mediator, who will contact the attorneys or the parties if not represented to schedule mediation.
What can I do to avoid seeing my abuser?
Take the following steps to avoid seeing your abuser:
At any time before a final mediation order, file an objection to referral to mediation based on family violence with the Court telling the Judge that there has been family violence in your case.
Attach a proposed order on your objection to referral to mediation, only filling out the case caption.
Give a copy of the motion and order to the other attorney or other party if not represented.
The other party may request a hearing on your objection. If there is no hearing or the Court agrees with your objection to mediation, then the Court cannot refer your case to mediation.
If your case is still ordered to mediation, the Court must order certain protections for your safety, such as keeping you in a separate room from your abuser. See link below for Texas Family Code 6.602(d).
How do I prepare for mediation?
Because an agreement reached will be binding and enforceable, it is important to make a list of issues you want to discuss at mediation, including but not limited to the following:
Children (conservatorship, possession, child support, medical insurance, life insurance, who makes decision about education, acceptable ways to correct child, children exchange, holiday possession)
Real property and mortgage
Retirement of both spouses and other long term savings plan
Debt (credit cards, loans)
Will the wife have a name change?
Will there be a permanent injunction to protect one party?
Streaming accounts like Vudu, amazon prime
Who pays for the children’s phone?
Who keeps the family pets?
Furniture and family pictures
What is a mediation session like?
Mediations are currently being held on Zoom. You and the other party, any attorneys, and the mediator will be present. If you or the other party wants someone else at the session, all parties must agree and the mediator consent. Generally, each party will pay half of the cost of mediation. However, some providers offer mediation for free. The mediator must keep the mediation session private and confidential. If you reach an agreement, the mediator will draft a Mediation Settlement Agreement. The agreement is binding on both parties if it is signed by all parties and attorneys and has the following language: “The parties agree that this agreement is binding and is not subject to revocation and is enforceable by a court of competent jurisdiction.” A party is entitled to judgment based on a settlement agreement that meets the requirements of the code. However, the Court may refuse to enforce it if you can prove that you were forced to sign the agreement, for example. See link below for Texas Family Code 6.602(b)(1-3).