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V-Day Safe House Victories In South Dakota, Kenya, and Miami!

3/28/2007

V-DAY SAFE HOUSE VICTORIES IN SOUTH DAKOTA, KENYA AND MIAMI!

Cangleska Opens New Women's Shelter

On May 4, Cangleska, Inc., a South Dakota based organization that provides comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy to citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, living on and adjacent to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, will celebrate the opening of their new women's shelter in Kyle, South Dakota. This shelter will be Cangleska's third safe house for women, joining it's sister shelter in Kyle and the Ohitika Najin Win Oti (Standing Strong Woman House) in Rapid City.

V-Day has long been a supporter of Cangleska, Inc. In 2002, Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation, holding press conferences and workshops with Native women to raise awareness and funds to end the violence that is growing to epidemic proportions. The 2002 V-Day Rapid City event, "On Sacred Ground...A Safe Place" raised $50,000 for the building of Cangleska's first women's shelter. Interviews and video footage from this incredible event can be seen in the V-Day documentary, Until The Violence Stops.

As a result of this event and its work with Cangleska, V-Day prioritized raising consciousness, awareness and money around the issues facing Native women and launched the Indian Country Initiative and the 2003 Spotlight on Native and First Nations Women. In Indian country, the rate of violence against women is the highest in the nation. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average annual rate of rape and sexual assault among American Indians is 3.5 times higher than for all other races.

Native activist Suzanne Blue Star Boy, who led the initiative, traveled across Indian Country to educate Native women about V-Day as a means to fundraise for local anti-violence programs

V-Day congratulates Cangleska and everyone who made this possible.
For more information about Cangleska, Inc. and to support their work, visit http://www.cangleska.org/.

V-Day New York Event Raises Money for Second V-Day Safe House in Kenya
On March 3 in New York City, V-Day Safe House For the Girls Founder Agnes Pareyio stood on stage at the Helen Mills Theater following two sold out V-Day benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues.

V-Day New York Financial organizers Nikki Cicerani and Ushma Pandya flew Agnes to New York to raise awareness about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the work that is carried out at the V-Day Safe House for Girls in Kenya.

Like the first V-Day Safe House for the Girls which opened in 2001, the new house will be home to 50 girls and will be run by Tasaru Ntomomok, Agnes' community-based, non-profit organization that educates the community on the dangers of FGM and early childhood marriages, and also provides an alternative to the harmful ritual.

Agnes began her efforts to end FGM by walking from village to village in the Rift valley of Kenya on foot in 2000, educating boys and girls, mothers and fathers about the dangers of the practice. By 2002, Agnes' work had stopped 1,500 girls from being cut and, after V-Day bought her a car, Agnes had stopped another 4,500 girls from being cut by 2003.

Casa Valentina Opening
On Saturday, February 24th, Casa Valentina (Spanish for Valentine House), a non-profit organization working with former foster care women, purchased a four-unit apartment building in West Coconut Grove. The house will be the first location of Casa Valentina's affordable housing for young women in Miami-Dade County, Florida who have aged out of foster care.

In addition to the Coconut Grove property, Casa Valentina is working in partnership with CHARLEE Homes for Children to offer affordable housing at their five-unit residential property in the Roads. Both buildings are currently under renovation and combined will have the capacity to provide affordable housing and support services to approximately 15 young women by the fall of 2007.

Casa Valentina is a non-profit organization addressing the immense challenges faced by young women in Miami-Dade County who age out of foster care at age 18 without the life experience, financial stability and support they need to survive on their own. In this situation, these women are vulnerable to prostitution, incarceration, pregnancy, drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness or worse.

The idea for Casa Valentina was launched at a V-Day event in Miami, with the initial funding coming from the 2005 V-Day Miami benefit that raised over $100,000. Casa Valentina is the perfect example of what can happen when groups work together, pooling their resources and energy. We honor the work of two long time V-Day activists Sharon Socol and Lisa Schejola Akin whose commitment helped make Casa Valentina a reality.

To learn more about their work and how to support them, visit http://www.casavalentina.org/index.html

UPDATE: John Jay High School Students Suspension Lifted
The news that Hannah Levinson, Megan Reback and Elan Stahl's suspension has been lifted is a vagina victory and an indication of the students' intelligence, grace, integrity and bravery. It is a victory for free speech, giving voice to the need for girls everywhere to know that they have vaginas and that having a vagina is a healthy thing, not something to hide or call by a different name.

I hope that this will further the discussion and will secure what the students have begun - they have highlighted how important it is to honor literature and for girls and boys to use the word vagina comfortably.

I believe that we should encourage girls and boys of all ages to speak comfortably and without reductive or infantilizing nicknames about their bodies, that they should be part of a dialogue about their bodies and their rights so they have agency over their bodies.

Through V-Day, "The Vagina Monologues" is performed annually as a benefit to raise awareness and funds towards ending violence against women in thousands of colleges and communities, including about 20 high schools each year. I hope that this victory opens the door for high schools around the country to present the play.
- Eve Ensler

ACTION: Stop Family Violence Action
In early February, President Bush released his budget request to Congress. For the sixth year in a row the President has fallen far short of the amount of spending Congress has authorized for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The proposed budget provides a discouraging 54% of authorized funding levels for lifesaving domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence programs. Several more invaluable programs are receiving no funding at all.

Following are programs whose funding is non-existent or have been severely cut:

  • Assisting Children Who Witness Violence
  • Sexual Assault Services
  • Shelters and Services
  • Elder Abuse and Abuse of People with Disabilities
  • Civil Legal Assistance
  • Grants to Reduce Violence on College Campuses

Stop Family Violence, a non-profit organization with the mission to organize and amplify the nation's collective voice against family violence, invites women and men to stand up for VAWA by sharing personal stories about why these programs matter.

By describing how the funding in these programs makes a difference, and by telling how not having funding for these programs has placed lives in jeopardy, United States citizens can stand up for their rights and for the rights of their mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, grandmothers and friends.

Help President Bush and Congress understand how critical these life-saving programs are.

Stop Family Violence will compile the stories into a booklet that will be hand-delivered to congressional offices.

For more information and to share your story please visit http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/ocean/host.php?page=430

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