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Domestic violence against migrants: we need action

Although I did not know Xi Wang, I am familiar with stories like hers.

Her story has been haunting me since I came across it. She was a Chinese woman who was killed five days after Grace Millane in her home in Flat Bush on 10 December 2018. The man accused of her murder was in court this week.

Many Asian migrant women have their lives taken. Asian migrant women who experience domestic violence from Pākehā men often face additional struggles seeking help, protection and justice.

As someone who has been involved in ending domestic violence against migrant and refugee women for the past nine years, it is still heart-wrenching to be confronted with reports of domestic violence murders.

I've had enough of domestic abuse and violence. I've had enough of sexual violence and rape culture. I've had enough of men murdering women and children. I've had enough of the systems failing to protect us.

They're often new to the country, no friends or family here, have temporary immigration status, little knowledge about how the systems work and can face language barriers that can be manipulated by abusive men.

This marginalisation based on immigration status, gender and ethnicity often makes them more vulnerable, and their stories invisible.

Other Asian migrant women who have been murdered in the past year do not remain in our consciousness: Arishma Chand (24 years old) murdered by her ex-boyfriend Rohit Singh, 42, in Auckland, Keshni Naiker, 28, murdered by her ex-husband Shiu Prasad, 52, on the streets of Christchurch.

Five years ago, Mei Fan, another Chinese women was murdered by her Pākehā ex-partner, Michael Preston in Wellington. She had a protection order against him and was living separately from him. He is now serving his sentence for the murder, but no amount of prison time will bring her life back.

Shakti's Wellington refuge was set up in 2014 so that women with migrant and refugee backgrounds can access culturally appropriate services, and so that murders like that of Mei Fan can be prevented.

After six years of advocacy, five years in operation, and over 300 women and 200 children served in the last year, it still remains the only refuge in the country that does not receive contracted government funding. It is struggling to survive.

Last year, while it was reassuring to see the outpouring of grief and anger at the murder of Grace Millane, it was also hurtful and frustrating to have never seen the same level of compassion and outrage expressed when it comes to violence against immigrant women of colour, Māori women, Pasifika women, trans women or disabled women.

While we grieve and mourn for Xi Wang, we hope and pray for the day when all women can live free from fear and violence.

We hope and pray for the day when migrant women of colour, who face additional barriers to seeking help and accessing justice, receive just as much support, compassion and understanding from the New Zealand public.

We need more compassion, but we also need action. Ending domestic violence is everyone's responsibility.
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