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Nonprofits Fighting Gender Violence Have Struggled Since Losing Buffetts’ Funding. They Urgently Need More Support.

Posted: May 26, 2022

Two years ago this month, the NoVo Foundation stunned the nonprofit world by announcing at the height of the pandemic that it was halting funding for critical programs focused on women and girls. For those of us working to prevent gender violence, the announcement hit especially hard. NoVo, a fund run by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, accounted for 96 percent of all funding for such work in the United States.

Today, many antiviolence organizations are still navigating the impact of NoVo’s exit — underscoring the overall dearth of philanthropic investment in curbing gender violence, and in women and girls more broadly.

Kaethe Morris Hoffer, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, told us that “the impact on our programmatic capacity has been real. We’ve only been able to avoid layoffs by the skin of our teeth and currently have to leave open a number of positions that we value but simply don’t have the resources to support.”

At our organization, Sanctuary for Families in New York City, NoVo was by far the largest foundation supporter for more than a decade, enabling us to launch and ultimately expand our Anti-Trafficking Initiative, which provides legal, case-management, counseling, and other services to 400 trafficking survivors annually.

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Domestic Violence in the Bangladeshi Community: The Murder of Arnima Hayat

Headlines rocked shockwaves across Australia and Bangladesh following the brutal murder of 19-year-old Arnima Hayat. The aspiring surgeon was found decomposed in a bathtub of acid, following a welfare call to Sydney police. Her husband, 20-year-old Meraj Zafar, is currently in custody and has been charged with her murder.

Hayat was second-year medical student at the University of Western Sydney. She and Zafar were together for a short period of time before getting married, despite the disapproval of their parents. According to Australian reports, Hayat’s parents reportedly lost contact with their daughter shortly after she moved in with her husband. She was killed just four months after getting married.

News video of her distraught and distressed parents went viral. As Bangladeshi media outlets covered her death, some speculated that Zafar was her live-in boyfriend, and not husband, leading to a myriad of verbal abuse across social media. 

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Two Queens lawmakers champion initiative to combat gender-based violence in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities

Posted: March 17, 2022

As communities mark the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings that killed eight people — including six Asian American women — on Wednesday, March 16, two Queens lawmakers are championing a $64.5 million AAPI Equity Budget. The initiative will combat gender-based violence to make Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities safer for women and other vulnerable residents.

The initiative is championed by Senator John Liu (D-Bayside) Assembly members Zohran Mamdani (D-Astoria) and Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan) in light of rising anti-Asian attacks that have sparked protests, fear and calls for funding and resources to protect AAPI communities in New York City. 

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“Little has happened this past year following the horrifying killings in Atlanta to set the minds of Asian Americans at ease. The AAPI community continues to endure attacks on an almost daily basis, and we now look to new solutions to combat the nonstop racial and gender-based violence with initiatives like the AAPI Equity Budget,” Liu said. “By supporting our state’s intricate network of community-based organizations, we aim to empower those who are best suited to aid our struggling community during these perilous times.”

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Nonprofit hosts vigil for survivors

A domestic violence vigil was held at the gazebo at Rufus King Park in Jamaica on Tuesday by Turning Point for Women & Families, a nonprofit dedicated to helping primarily Muslim women and girls in domestic violence situations.

Turning Point was founded by Robina Niaz, a social worker, in 2004.

“Whether we are domestic violence survivors or not, when we show our support of someone who is facing domestic violence or families that are facing this challenge everyday, we are saying we care,” said Niaz. “The Muslim community came under fire directly after 9/11 and there was no organization that was speaking to Muslim women facing domestic violence.”

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Hijab Removal by New York Police Prompts Lawsuit

One evening in January 2017, after she had been detained for hours in a police holding cell in Manhattan and repeatedly told to remove a head scarf that is part of her Muslim faith, Jamilla Clark began to cry. Then, she relented: She let a New York City police officer photograph her without her hijab.

As the camera flashed, Ms. Clark, 39, felt as if she were naked, she later said. Several male officers then stared at the image of her uncovered head as they stored it in a police database.

In August, Arwa Aziz, 45, endured a similar experience at a police building in Brooklyn. Police officers made her pull down her hijab for an official arrest photo as she stood in a cramped hallway with dozens of male prisoners. The police snapped photos of her uncovered head and hair from several angles. The prisoners, who saw Ms. Aziz weeping, turned away in respect as the officers looked on.

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