Our new approach to hate violence, launched in 2022, is to enable the participation and leadership of hate violence survivors by thinking outside conventional paradigms of healing and justice, often tied to policy and law enforcement. Instead, we will offer transformative justice (TJ) as a modality of healing.
We will select 15 survivors affected by interpersonal and structural hate crimes—including but not limited to ones driven by racism, Islamophobia, casteism, colorism, gender, sexuality, immigration status, physical and mental ability, and a history of carcerality—both at the hands of unknown attackers (e.g., gendered Islamophobia, harassment and violence in public spaces, vandalism and property destruction, and doxing and other forms of digital violence) and at the hands of known attackers (e.g., gender-based and domestic violence, child abuse, and institutional discrimination in workplaces, health and education settings).
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As an organization that works with South Asians in the United States, SAALT calls upon the Biden Harris Administration and Congress to take immediate action to address the global health crisis unfolding in India and across South Asia as a result of the COVID–19 pandemic. India has been averaging over 2,000 reported COVID-19 related deaths daily since late March. On Saturday, April 24th, India reported 324,000 new infections – a global record. Whatever existing medical infrastructure has collapsed, as documented by haunting images of hospitals running out of beds, desperate pleas for oxygen on social media, and news of overwhelmed crematoriums and graveyards. And this is just what is being reported. The Indian government’s ongoing mistreatment of minority populations in India makes it clear that marginalized communities are at an even greater risk of dying due to the pandemic.
South Asians in the United States have deep concerns about what is unraveling across India. SAALT joins the calls to action being made by many in the US and around the world to ask the Biden Harris Administration to:
- Ensure access to and equal distribution of any raw materials needed for vaccine production, without threat of sanction
- Ensure the immediate and equitable export and distribution of oxygen, oxygen generators, and other desperately needed medical supplies.
- Ensure that the Indian government is practicing ethical leadership that centers public health including equitable care, and access to vaccines and testing for all people. Individuals historically marginalized and excluded in India, including Dalit, Pasmanda, Adivasi, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and Kashmiri communities, must receive equal access.
This statement is also endorsed by:
18 Million Rising
Americans for Kashmir
Another Gulf Is Possible
Apna Ghar, Inc.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Justice (San Antonio)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Philadelphia
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON)
Asian Solidarity Collective
Association of Chinese Americans, Inc.
Center for Ideas, Equity, and Transformative Change
COOLJC Region 8 (SJEREC)
Dalit Solidarity Forum
Friends of Human Rights
Human Rights Cities Alliance Steering Committee
Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity
India Civil Watch International
Indian American Muslim Council
International Commission for Dalit Rights
Land Loss Prevention Project
The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
The Mississippi Farm to School Network
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers
Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE)
Rise Up India
South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA)
South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA)
South Asian Sexual and Mental Health Alliance (SASMHA)
South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI)
Yale Environmental Law Association
Yale Law Latinx Law Students Association
Yale Law School Asian Pacific American Law Students’ Association
Yale Law School OutLaws
Yale Law School South Asian Law Students’ Association
Yale Law School Yale Law Women
Yale School of Management
Today, SAALT grieves the loss of life in the latest mass shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana: On Thursday, April 15th, 2021, the Indiana community lost Matthew R. Alexander (32), Samaria Blackwell (19), Amarjeet Johal (66), Jasvinder Kaur (50), Jaswinder Kaur Singh (70), Amarjit Sekhon (49), Karli Smith (19), and John Weisert (74). Our hearts are heavy and mourn with the victims’ families and community members, who are undoubtedly reeling from the trauma of losing their loved ones. Of particular note, four of the eight victims were our Sikh siblings and fellow community members.
Just after 11:00 PM EDT on April 15th, a now-identified gunman entered an Indianapolis Fedex facility where he was previously employed, and opened fire, taking the lives of those mentioned above and injuring several others, before taking his own life. Since the investigation into the incident and the gunman’s motive is ongoing, and we are awaiting more detailed facts, we must prioritize those currently in recovery. Of utmost importance are those left behind tending to both their physical wounds and the deep trauma of having to return to a workplace and community where fellow community members were so tragically taken.
Such an act of mass violence sends reverberations across Sikh and South Asian communities, evoking past pain and grief rooted in decades of similar violent acts. Though the motive is still unclear, understandably this type of event triggers fear and uncertainty — much like what the community faced after 9/11 and in the aftermath of the killing of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Oak Creek in 2012. SAALT stands in solidarity with our Sikh community, in Indianapolis and across the country, as we move towards healing.
We are struck by the trend of violence against immigrant workers, who have not only taken on essential work during a global pandemic, but have also been particularly vulnerable to its health and economic consequences as a result of their work. SAALT stands in solidarity with immigrant and essential workers, and honors the care they have poured into our community despite widespread bigotry.
We are also disheartened by the loss of both elders, who were pillars of strength and resilience, and of young people, who were beacons of hope and life. As SAALT stands in solidarity with our elders and young folks, we are reminded of the practice of chardi kala: a Sikh spiritual practice that reminds us to center compassion, optimism, and courage, even in times of adversity and grief. For decades, the Sikh community has shown that resilience is possible even as they continually face tragedy, and our solidarity honors, centers, and uplifts that always; this is the thread we hope our community can center as we continue to process our grief. If you are looking to support Sikh siblings at this time of strife, please consider directing your resources to the following organizations:
- Sikh Coalition
- Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF)
- Jakara Movement
- Kaur Life
Washington, D.C. — 24 May 2022
The recently leaked draft majority opinion from SCOTUS threatens an alarming reversal of federal protections for abortion rights. Amidst grief and rage, we know — as South Asian survivors, immigrants, community-based organizations, and movement leaders — that we must act swiftly and unitedly to protest and prevent this from passing.
Building upon decades-long attacks on reproductive justice, the pending decision to overturn Roe v Wade could gut abortion rights in nearly half of the United States. Undeniably, this would have a devastating impact on South Asian families and communities — especially on survivors, immigrants, queer and trans people, and working class people.
“Abortion restrictions in this country have always targeted, and fall hardest on, people of color and low-income people. They are meant to keep people like us powerless and in our place. Abortion bans are racial violence. They are gender-based violence. Abortion bans are class warfare.” - Shivana Jorawar, Esq., Co-Director, Jahajee Sisters
In the face of these unprecedented restrictions, it is imperative that we push for bold solutions that ensure affordable and accessible abortions for everyone. Without the right to abortion, the health and well-being of pregnant people, entire families, communities, and future generations are at risk.
In contrast to model minority stereotypes, South Asians face pervasive systemic barriers including economic, legal, language, and cultural hurdles to accessing reproductive healthcare. Though there is a dearth of data on abortion rates among South Asians, a recent study found that Indian American women in New York City have the highest rate of abortion amongst Asian Americans.
“South Asians are especially vulnerable - without access to resources in the multitudes of languages we speak, and the shame and stigma that comes with accessing reproductive health care, we are marginalized further without policies that support people’s whole lives, including better access to hospitals and clinics, healthcare provided by people our communities trust, insurance that actually covers our real needs, and policies that eliminate barriers to care because of racism and inequities.” - Sharmin Hossain, Campaign Director, Liberate Abortion
In 2012, Savita Halappanavar, a South Asian dentist living in Ireland, tragically died after being denied a timely abortion. In 2014, Purvi Patel, a South Asian woman from Indiana, was one of only two women to be prosecuted under the statewide feticide bill. Her case demonstrates the violent hypocrisy of the U.S. government, which has a well documented history of forced sterilizations of women of color, particularly Black women, while at the same time criminalizing abortion, as demonstrated through racist sex-selective abortion bans. If those in power were to prioritize well-being, they would address the shortage of baby formula, lack of paid family leave, denial of access to healthcare, and the shortage of affordable and free childcare in this country.
“This moment is painstakingly triggering for survivors who are all too familiar with stolen consent and the violation of bodily autonomy. The fight for reproductive justice and survivor justice are intricately interconnected as both are working to advance a world abundant with care, resources, and choices.” - Denise Beek, Chief Communications Officer, me too. International
For South Asian survivors who live at the intersection of multiple oppressions, the consequences will be even more grave. People in abusive relationships are far more vulnerable to sexual assault, birth control sabotage, reproductive coercion or control, and misinformation about their reproductive rights, and homicide, frequently by a partner, is the leading cause of maternal death during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
"As organizations in the southern states, we face some of the toughest abortion restriction policies. This rollback of rights is extremely concerning because it threatens the livelihoods for survivors and people who already have limited access to resources, transportation, and healthcare." - Aparna Bhattacharyya, Executive Director of Raksha and SOAR Board Member
Within South Asian communities, the prevailing stigma, shame, and silence that hinder discussions of sexual and reproductive health are isolating and dangerous. Unless we normalize our choices and needs, we are jeopardizing the physical and emotional health and safety of South Asians.
As we mobilize in the coming weeks and months, we look to the South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian leaders at the forefront of the reproductive justice movement. Across the South Asian & Indo-Caribbean diaspora, HEART to Grow is sustaining a reproductive justice fund for Muslims, Jahajee Sisters is leading actions and hosting conversations on abortion access, and Sakhi for South Asian Women and other gender-based violence organizations are increasing access to contraception for survivors.
“Make no mistake -- banning abortion does not end the need for abortion care. Abortion is normal, common and one of the safest medical procedures. Banning abortion will not only have devastating effects on women, pregnant people and their whole families but it will have the greatest impact on low-income people of color. As a movement, we are prepared for what's to come and I'm proud to say that we are stronger than ever. We won't give up.” - Dr. Meera Shah, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Medical Director of Whole Women’s Health Alliance of South Bend, Indiana, and Sakhi Board Member
This is not only a fight to save Roe v. Wade, but also a pivotal moment to reimagine the future of reproductive justice and freedom for all. We must act to ensure that abortion is legal, accessible, affordable, and supported for everyone regardless of income, race, gender, sexuality, caste, religion, and more.
The solidarity and voices of South Asians are needed, now more than ever, to take action, speak out, donate, and to protect choice and freedom for ourselves and the generations to come.
Organizational & Individual Signatories
- AFSSA (Texas)
- Ashiyanaa (Maryland)
- Daya (Texas)
- Jahajee Sisters (New York)
- Raksha Inc. (Georgia)
- Sakhi for South Asian Women (New York)
- Sanctuary for Families (New York)
- SEWA-AIFW (Minnesota)
- South Asian SOAR (National)
- Manavi (New Jersey)
From Atif Akhter
The tragedy of 9/11 and the following War on Terror has deeply affected South Asian, Arab, and Muslim Communities across the globe. Recently, through exploring the work done by organizations such as the Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC) as well as South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), I can better vocalize the pain I have felt as a member of both of these communities. Their work encourages us, as young people who do not remember a world before Muslims were considered a permanent enemy. State-sponsored violence has taken a toll on my people as we have been brutalized and villainized over the course of 20 years due to policies which systematically and explicitly target us. These decades have not slowed the onslaught of surveillance that is almost tangible and this concurrent demand that we prove that we are patriotic, even if we were born here and after the attack on the Twin Towers. We desire not only safe spaces and healing, but also to see such discriminatory and racist policies repealed and condemned.
Islamophobia is deeply ingrained into our culture now. Even today on the streets of the most diverse city in the world, women who wear the hijab fear retaliation from Islamophobes. But beyond this vilfication of our customs and traditions has been an effort to spy on our families in an effort to validate law enforcements’ pre-existing ignorant assumptions. In the years immediately following 9/11, without cause, authorities came frequently to our mosques and New York City universities’ Muslim Student Associations. We realized intuitively that allyship could often be superficial, or more dangerously, covert monitoring.
As a South Asian and Muslim student at Cornell University, it also became quickly clear that if there was any positive outcome from these years of censure, it has been that our sense of community had expanded to others who are not Muslim or not South Asian, but have shared experiences because of how Islamophobia often affects people because of how they are perceived. In many ways, there is new solidarity amongst Sikh, Hindu, and Jain youth as well as with Black and Arab Muslims.
We have lost too many people to senseless attacks, endured too much scrutiny and harassment, and had to tell our parents that in spite of their American Dreams, we still face challenges that they never could have imagined would affect us still. Not a single successive generation should have to live under the War on Terror.
From Hassan Javed
I am a Muslim Pakistani-American. To present myself in this identity is a testament to the strength I’ve build over the years. Ever since I was a child, my peers tried to teach me the hard way that this society warrants your American identity to be a complete recluse from your identities. Muslim-American, Pakistani-American, or whatever else was on the left side of your hyphenated identity, my peers told me that it was only the American that mattered and was worthy of their respect. I grew up hearing America was a melting pot — but what good was this melting pot if a few ingredients dominated all others?
Perhaps, it wasn’t even just the “American” that was worthy of their respect — it was the only identity safe from their hatred. Every other identity was cause for my teacher to ask me inconsiderate questions about my identities…my parents’ workplace to get its windows smashed in an act the police was adamant not to call a hate crime…the unhinged man with a knife on the subway to loop around me yelling slurs. America had accepted that my other identities could trivialize my survival. I had accepted that it could not have been any other way.
And, who was pulling the strings if none other than the American governments, both at the federal and state levels. From just 2010–2016, 194 anti-sharia bills were introduced in legislation, and they are a testament to how the government views and portrays Islam. As Professor Tisa Wenger of Yale University has said best, these legislations “represent a demonization of Islam” and invent “a spectrum of damage that doesn’t actually exist.” And this faux “spectrum of damage” is all the government needs to make Islamophobic mainstream.
What my peers said to me at school and what I faced outside of my home was just a microcosm of the racial profiling the government made commonplace. My people were subject to surveillance, detention, and deportation solely on the basis of their religious identity. The Muslim Students Association I am involved in here at Columbia was surveilled extensively; what was it about us praying and opening our fasts together that threatened America… that caused America to look at us under a microscope? How do I, along with every Muslim-American youth, reel from our government treating us as if we’re bacteria in their pondwater?
You stereotyped me. Your media misportrayed me. You taught against me in your schools. You jailed me over unjustified suspicion. You treated me as a lesser. So, the teenage me replied with faux patriotism. If what it took for you to stop treating me like an outsider was to be patriotic, or rather, accept your American ignorance and hatred without a word,teenage me did it. But I am no longer my teenage self. I am no longer afraid of your hatred. I am no longer faux patriotic.
If all you ever wanted was to make me feel like an outsider, then let me reclaim being an American. Let me take pride in being Muslim-American. Let me take pride in being Pakistani-American. Let me color America with the identities you can’t stand the existence of. I am reflective of the power in my communities. I am reflective of the strength of my people. Use surveillance, detention, or whatever you can to make us feel like we do not belong, we will organize and rise against your de facto and de jure injustice. My ancestors overcame your imperialism and colonialism; now, their child will overcome your Islamophobia and racism.
Washington, D.C. — 24 May 2022
The recently leaked draft majority opinion from SCOTUS threatens an alarming reversal of federal protections ... Read the rest “Collective Statement from South Asian Leaders on Abortion & Reproductive Justice”
- History of Reproductive Justice: