Newly elected City Council District 28 member, Adrianne Adams, the first woman to represent the district, expressed sadness at the death of Guyanese-born, Stacy Singh, formally of Richmond Hill, who became the first homicide victim of 2018 in New York.
“You have my commitment, my ear, and voice to speak out about these issues. Silence kills; stand up for yourselves. Your strength is stronger than you realize,” said Adams who encouraged the community to make use of the resources and organizations that would listen to their needs.
“I know this type of abuse causes shame, it causes you to feel alone, my heart breaks for Stacy,” said Adams who was among scores who sat on the floor of the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir in Ozone Park to honor the 26-year mother of two small children, brutally murdered by her husband on Jan. 1 in her home.
The vigil and “speak out” organized by Jahajee Sisters — an Indo-Caribbean movement, was attended by Consul General of Guyana to New York, Barbara Atherly.
The diplomat thanked the young women for their vigilance, and the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir, for creating an environment to discuss domestic abuse and gender-based violence rampant the community.
Atherly mourned the loss of Stacy Singh, and called on the citizens to work to end violence in the community, stating that both women and men can make a difference to ensure this violent act does not happen again.
“We must empower and educate our sisters,” she said, calling on men to be a part of the solution. “It is not only a woman’s issue. Women are at the blunt and bitter end of gender-based violence and domestic violence, however we need our men onboard with us. Let women know they should not see their situation as being in darkness, because there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
She called on men to walk away from situations that could lead to violence, because when a parent is murdered, the family, community, and country are all affected.
“Whether it’s a Stacy, a Gayatri or a Natasha, family, our community, and our country all mourn. It goes deep, because children are left without parents, and these children in many cases, repeat violence.”
“We must make sure that violence stops now,” said the consul general. “If we know someone being abused, do not stay silent, make a commitment to help every woman, “let them know they can get out of any abusive situation,” she said.
Family members present mourned Singh, who endured years of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband. Ramona Latsis, Stacy’s aunt from Georgia, who sobbed uncontrollably, called Stacy a loving mother, saying, it is the end of Stacy’s journey “but we have to decide what is best for her kids.”
“This gives us a bit of peace that she did not die in vain. I want to say to women, leave, don’t stay because of the kids, leave because of the kids,” said Latsis.
Founder of Jahajee Sisters, Taij Mooteelall, who thanked Pandit Tillack Seerattan, Let the Women Speak, Guyanese Girls Rock and the United Madrassi Foundation Inc. for their participation, said, “this is the moment that matters the most when we step out of our comfort zone and step into possibilities and yes, we have the power to change, this is our moment.”
Courageous women like Jyoti Hardat, whose sister was shot by her NYPD partner, Shivana Jorawar Aminta Kilawan-Narine of Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus, who become an advocate after being bullied by her boyfriend, and attorney Shivana Jorawar, mistreated by her boyfriend, all gave chilling testimonies.
Gender-based violence, said Mohamed Q. Amin of the Equality Project, affected his sisters in the home when he was growing up. He called for mental health initiatives and pledged to continually engage the community to support survivors and all those impacted by violence, hate, and discrimination.
Jahajee Sisters organization continues its committment to create a safe, equitable society for women in the community, while fostering solidarity and empowerment through dialogue, arts, leadership development and grassroots organizing.