September 24, 2013

Event Announcement: Panel Discussion







Reclaiming Rights: Challenging Gender-based Violence in South Asia

Date and time: Wednesday, September 25, 2013; 6 to 8 pm

Venue: International Development Exchange (IDEX), 333 Valencia St., Suite 250, San Francisco

About the event:

The Delhi and Mumbai gangrapes have garnered critical public attention, outrage, and mobilising in India and beyond. But these are just two incidents in a larger patriarchal context where rapes, harassment, and violence happen routinely across big and small cities, rural and urban areas. We need to dialogue, build solidarity and work together to challenge structures that perpetuate and enable sexual violence – from the everyday street harassment to brutal gang  rapes. This panel discussion, featuring activists from India, Sri Lanka, and the San Francisco Bay Area, hopes to surface the vital analysis and workable solutions needed to shift the current paradigm that normalises violence.

This event is also a tribute to the incredibly inspiring life and work of renowned Sri Lankan human rights activist Sunila Abeysekara, who passed away earlier this month on September 9.


About the panelists:

Kavita Krishnan is Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s  Association (AIPWA), a women’s group that is especially active among  women workers, agricultural laborers, and other sections of poor  laboring women in rural and urban India. The AIPWA has a record of  resistance against feudal violence on women and state repression against women. Kavita has been a student activist, helping to organise women students on many campuses to demand mechanisms against sexual  harassment. Kavita is also editor of ‘Liberation’, the monthly publication of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

Sudha Shetty is the Assistant Dean for International Partnerships and Alliances at the Goldman School of Public Policy. For the past five years she has served as the Director of the International Fellowship  Program and a graduate faculty at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert  H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Ms. Shetty speaks and writes extensively on domestic violence issues  facing immigrant women and women of color. She has been a consultant to  the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, L.L.P. on diversity issues, and, in her former role as Director of the Seattle University Law School’s Access to Justice Institute, she developed a variety of legal access  projects focused on battered women. She was a founding member  and chair of Chaya, a grass-roots South Asian domestic violence  prevention program in Seattle. Ms. Shetty received a Bachelors  Degree in Sociology and Psychology from Sophia College in Bombay, India, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Bombay, India.

Krishanti Dharmaraj is the Founder and CEO of Dignity Index Fund – a  new fund set up to provide resources to South Asia to advance the  leadership of women and utilize the Dignity Index to reduce  discrimination and violence. Previously, she was Principal of the  SamasaMdhi Initiative, focusing on realizing a just and equitable world  through the progressive measurement of human rights. SamasaMdhi refers  to “peace on equal terms”. She is also the co–founder of Children’s Fund for Peace, an organization providing resources to children affected by armed conflict in South Asia. Ms. Dharmaraj is the former founding Executive Director of Women’s Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights (WILD for Human Rights). With her leadership, San Francisco  became the first city in the United States to pass legislation  implementing an international human rights treaty—the UN Convention on  the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).  Ms. Dharmaraj also helped initiate the US Human Rights Network, the US NGO Steering Committee to the World Conference Against Racism (2001) and the Women’s Human Rights Caucus for WCAR, and co–founded the Sri Lanka  Children’s Fund to support children affected by the tsunami and civil  war in Sri Lanka.

About the panel moderator:
Former Executive Director at Narika, Preeti Shekar holds a double Master’s degree in Journalism and Women’s Studies. Preeti has previously worked with the Global Fund for Women for four years, as part of their communications team. She has served on the board of Media Alliance, and has been an advisory member of Women, Action and Media  (WAM), a Cambridge-based group committed to increase women’s positive representation in US media. Preeti is also a radio producer and works on two radio shows on KPFA 94.1 FM (Pacifica Radio), focused on increasing the voices of women of color and the Asian Pacific Islander communities. Her radio work prioritizes the voices and perspectives of  marginalized voices, in the Bay Area and the Global South.


Fee: This event is free and open to the public. However, please be aware that seating is limited and on a first-come first-served basis.


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