Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

November-14-00

Healing Voices

When women from the six Tewa-speaking pueblos of northern New Mexico decided to do something about the rape and sexual violence in their communities, they turned to their cultural roots of peace and respect for the earth. "Violence against women is not distinct from that against the poor or Mother Earth," says Kathy Sanchez, director of Tewa Women United, an activist group in the area. "Within the Native perspective everything is connected."

To honor that heritage, Tewa Women United has created one of the first antiviolence programs in North America, headed by the Native American women it serves. They call their initiative V.O.I.C.E.S. (Valuing Our Integrity with Courage, Empowerment and Support). Rather than adopting what it calls a Euro-American model of healing that relies on timed therapy sessions and jails far from the community, V.O.I.C.E.S. calls on its own traditions. "Native Americans are wary of outside agencies from the white world," says Katia Delgado, an indigenous Peruvian woman and therapist for V.O.I.C.E.S. "Memories of being betrayed, enslaved, and beaten for speaking their own language lurk beneath the surface. So, when the perpetrator of a sexual crime is sent to prison outside of the pueblo, breaking up the family, it awakens old ghosts for everyone."

Volunteers with V.O.I.C.E.S. encourage healing by working closely with sexual assault victims, the victims' families, and the communities to make offenses publicly known despite resistance from mostly male tribal councils. The group encourages the entire pueblo to take responsibility for the violence and come together for peace. V.O.I.C.E.S. finds shelter for women and their children among the sprawling networks of extended families. They are also working to establish halfway houses for abusers on the pueblo grounds. Volunteers help run a hotline, offer culturally sensitive counseling, and provide medical help and emergency intervention for women in distress. To serve the growing number of women seeking help, V.O.I.C.E.S. has had to lean on services from outside the community. But first, Tewa volunteers provide cross-cultural training for the tightly supervised network of outside medical and legal agencies they use.

To help women and children recoup their inner strength, V.O.I.C.E.S. trains them in the spiritual rituals of their ancestors. "Every morning, we present ourselves to the sun, which has many healing powers, especially when its rays are at a certain angle," says Sanchez. The group also leads prayers of thanks that recognize the people, animals, plant life, wind, and water that sustain them. "We make women feel less alone by helping them name three support systems in their lives," says Sanchez. "Once you claim these connections, you recognize the sacred energy of the universe and gain strength from it to make choices that empower you."

Back to Ms.

Media Resources: MsMagazine


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

11/21/2014 STATEMENT: Feminist Majority Foundation Applauds President's Executive Order on Immigration - Statement from Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation president: "The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds President Obama for taking much needed executive action to help fix our broken immigration system that has for too long torn hardworking families apart. . . .
 
11/21/2014 Fifth Circuit Court Refuses to Reconsider Ruling Blocking Mississippi TRAP Law - The full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday refused to reconsider a panel decision blocking enforcement of a Mississippi law that threatened to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. In July, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. . . .
 
11/21/2014 UN Expert Calls for Action To End Violence Against Women in Afghanistan - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo returned last week from a nine-day official visit in Afghanistan with a call to the Afghan Government and the international community to continue its focus on creating sustainable solutions to reduce violence against women. This was Manjoo's third visit to Afghanistan, and the Special Rapporteur noted many positive developments since her travel to the country in 1999, during the Taliban regime, and in 2005. In particular, Manjoo cited the creation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW) by presidential decree in 2009 as "a key step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls."EVAW criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women - including rape, child and forced marriage, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced self-immolation - and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .