Breaking the Silence of Violence Against Women with Filipino-American Students from Cornell, Columbia, and NYU

FiRE launches GABRIELA USA’S iVOW Campaign on the East Coast

Contact: Cris Hilo, Vice Chair, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, fire.nyc@gmail.com

Ithaca, NY- Last Saturday in the middle of the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York, members of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) launched GABRIELA USA’s nationwide campaign “iVOW to Fight VAW”, to empower young Filipinos to take a vow to fight violence against women (VAW). Over 60 students from Cornell University, Columbia University, and New York University came together for the weekend at Cornell’s first “Kapihan”, an outlet for open discussion about identifying and addressing issues in the Filipino American community.

FiRE, a grassroots Filipino women’s organization in New York City, launched the nationwide educational campaign to address violence against women, an issue that is often silenced in the Filipino community. Throughout the workshop, speakers from FiRE exposed the Seven Deadly Sins Against Women, including rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, limited access to reproductive healthcare, sex trafficking, prostitution, and militarization. Members of FiRE analyzed that these problems have a deep-rooted and systematic connection to the effects of colonialism in the Philippines. Current labor export policies in the Philippines, which transport migrant workers from the Philippines to overseas countries like the United States, also have contributed to the ongoing presence of violence against women in Filipino communities worldwide.

“This educational workshop is necessary to inform Filipino youth, especially young women, of their basic rights as human beings. We seek to empower young women to take a firm stand against everyday violence that they may experience in any shape or form. Women have the right to say no to violence. It is important for all Filipinos to draw connections between violence against women and children to the Philippines’ violent history of colonialism. Today, we took our vows to stop our society’s cycle of violence,” stated Anna Sian, a member of FiRE who facilitated the workshop at Cornell University.

“The iVOW workshop has helped the Kapihan Conference’s participants recognize the importance of violence against women in our community as well as the various ways to intervene. The interactive exercise spoke volumes to our men and women, as they were able to see the destructive cycle of violence and come up with ways to speak up against it. I was thoroughly impressed with the presenters and their ability to convey such powerful messages so effectively,” said Christine Ramos, president of Cornell Filipino Association.

Names of students who took the VOW this past weekend.

GABRIELA USA member organizations Pinay sa Seattle, Sisters of Gabriela Awaken, and babae, launched the “iVOW to Fight VAW” campaign simultaneously across the United States in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco respectively. GABRIELA USA is a nationwide grassroots Filipina women’s alliance that tackles issues like violence against women, access to healthcare, LGBTQI rights, and economic, political, and social justice for Filipinas in the United States. For more information on the iVOW campaign, and how you can take a vow please go to http://www.firenyc.org or http://www.gabusa.org.

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