“This is a small step, but I hope it’s a step that opens doors for there to be a coming together of all stakeholders,” said attorney Cornelia Soberano, a founder of the Filipino Working Group who has spent the last few days inviting people to turn out for the silent march held Tuesday afternoon in front of Maui Community College.
Soberano created the sign: “Another Filipina Killed” to bring attention to the deaths of three Filipina women who were killed this year on Oahu because of domestic violence. “This is a call out to all victims, to the community to report domestic violence,” Soberano said. “There’s help to be had.”
Tuesday’s march was sponsored by Women Helping Women, the local nonprofit that provides shelter, counseling and other services to victims of domestic violence. Executive Director Stacey Moniz welcomed the Filipino Working Group to the march, pointing out that three of the four women who have died at the hands of domestic violence this year in Hawaii happened to be of Filipina descent. None lived on Maui.
Moniz said Filipinas may have fallen victim to domestic violence because of their inability to access service, language barriers or even the nonprofit’s inability to address their needs. But she also pointed out that domestic violence occurs in all ethnic groups across the state.
Moniz said Women Helping Women’s Pilipina Rural Project, spearheaded by Deputy Director Cindy Cline, attempts to reach out to Filipinas and pastors of all religious backgrounds to educate them about domestic violence.
Pastor Ed Gazmen of New Life Community Church acknowledged he once unknowingly put a domestic violence victim in jeopardy by not correctly providing information to her.
Gazmen has since been trained through the Pilipina Rural Project and has helped with training of other pastors who are often called for help. “The least we can do is educate the community, then the rest can follow,” he said.
Gazmen said Filipinas often associate “hiya,” or shame, with domestic violence, and choose not to report it to authorities to protect their family from embarrassment. “It’s so deeply ingrained in the person, in the culture,” said Cline, who is Filipina.
Roger Evangelista, a Filipino and president of the Maui Veterans Council, brought to Tuesday’s march a U.S. flag, a Hawaiian flag and a Filipino flag.
“There’s domestic violence in the whole nation, here in Hawaii and yes, even among Filipinos and veterans,” Evangelista said.
As a veteran and a man of Filipino descent, Evangelista said he wanted to support the march and call an end to domestic violence. “Most of the cultures, they try to keep it within, and we can’t keep doing that,” he said.
Joe Cline, Cindy Cline’s husband and also a disabled veteran, said he attended the march to show support to his wife and the call to end violence in the family. “I believe it’s very wrong for a man to be abusing his children, abusing a woman or even a man abusing a man,” he said. “I don’t know I just think it’s not OK.”
Lena Lorenzo, director of the Victim Witness Assistance Division in the Department of Prosecuting Attorney, said she was glad to see such a diverse group of people show up for the march.
She said the majority of the cases involving crimes against people have an element of domestic violence.
Jeny Bissell, a public health nurse and member of the Maui Filipino Working Group, said that while her focus is helping Filipinas, she knows that domestic violence affects people of other races as well.
“All us are at risk for violence and abuse,” Bissell said. She expressed sadness for the women who have died this year because of domestic violence. “I think we as a community failed, and it’s time we step up and say stop this.”
• Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About 30 people held signs Tuesday on Kaahumanu Avenue to bring attention and awareness to domestic violence. The silent march sponsored by Women Helping Women was held in honor of four victims of domestic violence. Three of the four female victims are of Filipina descent, and members of the Maui Working Filipino Group came out in force to support the march.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo