NEWS

Surrey's 5th annual Rakhi Project targets domestic abuse

07/16/2015 02:30 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT
For the fifth year in a row, the City of Surrey is using a traditional South Asian celebration to encourage people to stand up against domestic violence.  

The annual Rakhi Project draws its name from an Indian festival that celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. 

As part of the Indian custom, a brother will wear a colourful bracelet tied to his wrist by his sister as a symbol of mutual love and respect.

This year, the city is selling purple bracelets and encouraging the community to wear them as a sign of solidarity in the fight to end domestic abuse. 

Not everyone on board

But one local South Asian woman is opposed to what she is calling a misappropriation of her culture. 

Anu Sandhu Bamra is a Surrey-based blogger who said this campaign unfairly singles out the South Asian community and is "doing a disservice" to the advocates and women affected by domestic violence. 

"You are destroying a community by saying that, 'Your culture is in some way responsible for this issue,'" Bamra said.  

The City of Surrey however has been very clear that domestic violence occurs in all cultures, said Vera LeFranc, a Surrey City Councillor who helped launch this year's Rakhi Project.  

"Really, honouring Rakhi is a way for us to raise awareness of it, and bring forward the understanding of domestic violence," LeFranc said.

She said the South Asian community has been very involved in the evolution of the Rakhi Project and believes this campaign is raising the issue in a very positive way.

Since 2010, the Rakhi project has sold more than 10,000 bracelets.

This year, all proceeds will go to the Surrey Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, or SCADA, which unites community organizations in addressing and reducing this kind of violence. 

To hear the full interview with Vera LeFranc, listen to the audio labelled: 5th annual Rakhi Project.

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