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South Asian SOAR
South Asian SOAR
South Asian SOAR
In 2020, amid a global pandemic, nationwide protests against anti-Black racism, and mounting anti-Asian violence, a shadow pandemic of gender-based violence (GBV) was growing. In response to these intersectional outcries against structural violence, a group of community leaders began meeting to reimagine the future of the South Asian anti-violence movement. Building on a legacy of over 40 years, this group began to envision the future of a movement rooted in the values of solidarity, trust, and belonging. Together, they shared their challenges, needs, and dreams for South Asian survivors and gender justice movements across the US. At South Asian SOAR (SOAR), our collective is advancing a national movement to end GBV in the US-based South Asian diaspora, unified by a shared vision for joy, healing, and justice for all South Asian survivors and communities. SOAR’s mission to transform the culture and systems that lead to violence in our diaspora is brought to life through our theory of change: We focus on strengthening the field, by investing in building the knowledge and capacity of individuals and organizations on the frontlines, so that they can strengthen and evolve their work. We recognize that organizations aren’t the only entities to hold anti-violence work, so we invest in building the leadership of survivors and allies. Our learnings from both of these spaces drive upstream, systemic change by raising awareness and shifting narratives at the grassroots and national levels.
About the Organization:
$500,000 - $1 MILLION
Behind the vibrancy of the US-based South Asian diaspora exists a painful truth: nearly half — 48% — of our diaspora is suffering from gender-based violence (GBV). As telling as this number is, it merely hints at the sheer complexity that defines GBV for South Asians. To offer a bit more color, 38% experience emotional abuse, 35% experience economic abuse, 27% experience verbal abuse, 26% experience immigration-related abuse, 19% experience in-laws related abuse, and 11% experience sexual abuse. The repercussions of GBV span across generations. Studies have found that 41% of South Asian respondents witnessed domestic violence in their homes as children and 25% experienced child sexual abuse, while a separate study found that 85% of South Asians (ages 18 - 34) have experienced some form of sexual assault. Existing research has left our field with many unanswered questions around how GBV is impacting different South Asian ethnicities, caste-oppressed, LGBTQIA+, and male survivors, as well as how GBV intersects with other harms affecting our communities such as reproductive and gun violence. In lieu of research, frontline South Asian GBV organizations have continued to keep a close pulse on and serve the needs of marginalized South Asian survivors – in silos. Despite navigating many of the same issues, the South Asian GBV movement has operated largely disconnected from each other due to constrained capacity and sustainable infrastructure. This has stifled both organizational and movement growth, which in turn, limits the level of support and justice South Asian survivors deserve.
SOAR convenes a national collective of 33+ South Asian GBV organizations to strengthen the South Asian GBV field, grow survivor leadership, and build capacity for a movement that actualizes systemic and cultural change for South Asian survivors, organizations, and communities. We exist to uplift the immediate needs of our historically overlooked collective, and inspire national action that effectively prevents and ends GBV in our diaspora. Strengthening the Organizations in the Field Community & Capacity Building: We convene a network of direct-service organizations to build their capacity by creating spaces for learning, supporting the exchange of resources and strategies, and providing opportunities for relationship building across organizations. We do this through monthly member meetings, online listservs, resource directories, and peer support spaces. National Summit : We host a virtual national conference to bring movement and frontline leaders together to connect, strategize, and plan the next phase of change in the movement to end gender-based violence in our communities. Building the Leadership of Survivors and Allies Organizing: We create educational, awareness, and action campaigns to advance a collective voice and agenda to advocate for the intersecting and diverse needs of South Asian survivors and communities. Survivor Storytelling & Leadership : We run a program for South Asian survivors to build community and tell their stories, on their own terms, to support the healing and leadership of survivors and center them at the forefront of cultural and systemic change. Shifting the Culture & Narrative Research & Data: We gather and publish data and community-based research, such as our inaugural Together We Rise report, to uncover new knowledge and raise awareness about gender-based violence in the South Asian diaspora in the US. Intersectional Advocacy : We use our research and data to mobilize South Asians for reproductive justice, transformative justice, and gun reform, knowing that these issues are inextricably linked with gender-based violence. We also use art and storytelling to share the nuanced experiences of our diaspora, such as our remembrance series, Their Light Remains, to honor South Asian lives lost to gender-based violence.