In Mourning for Donna Dojoy

We are deeply saddened to hear about the murder of Donna Dojoy, a 27-year-old Guyanese woman. On the evening of Friday, November 8, 2019, Dojoy was stabbed repeatedly by her husband in his home. Her husband, Dinhwar Budhidat, took his own life shortly after killing his wife. Dojoy had an order of protection against her abusive husband from earlier this year. The order came out of a court case against Budhihat, who had been arrested in August for slapping and strangling his wife.

We are shocked by this senseless murder of another young woman at the hands of her partner. We are pained to see these grave circumstances, which are eerily similar to those of Stacy Singh’s case nearly two years ago.

We stand with the loved ones of Donna Dojoy, and with all those who struggle, often in silence, for their safety, health, and happiness. As we grieve in the wake of this horrific event, we take a moment to reflect on our efforts and our aspirations.

South Asian Women’s Organizations are tragically too familiar with the fact that gender-based abuse and domestic violence are neither uncommon in our community nor in the world at large. Compared to the U.S. national average of one in four women, two out of five South Asian women in the U.S. experience domestic violence throughout their lifetime. Horrific events such as this serve as moments to recommit ourselves to our work and to our community as we pursue gender justice and collective liberation. Survivors face great risk when they are leaving an abusive relationship. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent the victim from leaving. In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. One study on men who have killed their wives found that either threats of separation by their partner or actual separations were most often the precipitating events that lead to the murder. We know all too well that domestic violence is about power and control and that it is most dangerous for survivors when the abuser realizes they no longer have control over their partner. We strive for a world in which we can all live with an assured sense of safety. In pursuit of this goal, SAWOs work within their communities to end gender-based violence. We support our clients with resources to help them heal and rebuild after experiencing abuse, and we conduct workshops to discuss healthy relationship practices with our communities.

Today, we recommit ourselves to amplifying the voices of South Asian survivors, who often do not capture mainstream attention. We dedicate ourselves to making our voices and our stories visible. No one deserves to suffer at the hands of another; we recognize that it takes a collective effort to change the realities of gender-based violence and to dismantle patriarchal forces. All of us, working in solidarity, are needed to disrupt cycles and cultures of violence and achieve gender justice. In the wake of this tragedy, we invite our community to join us in this work so that no other lives will be lost like this.

If you too are pained and outraged by this murder, please take time to do the following:

• Learn more about domestic and gender-based violence. Inform yourselves about the current issues and history surrounding gender-based violence in South Asian communities.

• Actively speak out against sexist, enabling comments and behavior when it happens, so we can stop the cycle of violence before it can begin again.

• Support organizations like ours, which are dedicated to supporting and advocating for survivors.

• As we endeavor to take on the cycle of gender-based violence within our communities, we demand that the government does so simultaneously. With the expiration of VAWA, we call upon our community to take up VAWA and demand the passage of H.R. 1585 or propose a similar, enhanced bill that is backed by the gender-based violence field.

• We call upon you to join and support us in our advocacy, for this is a joint effort by Standing, marching, and pushing back against oppressive behavior and systems.

Together, through healing, education, and action, we can and will fight back against violence in our communities. We are all negatively impacted by patriarchal systems and gender-based violence. We must remember that until all of us are free, none of us are free.

There is no excuse for violence. We all deserve autonomy and self-actualization for both the mind and the body. As the fight to end gender-based violence proves to be a persistent battle, we renew our vow to achieve gender justice collectively. We hope you will join us.

If you know someone who is currently being abused, or if you are currently being abused, please know that there is help available and that you are not alone. Please call 1-888-799-SAFE to be connected with resources in your area, or contact one of the organizations listed below to receive help and information. The time is now.