Founded in 1989, Sakhi for South Asian Women is a gender justice organization that exists to end violence against women. Sakhi is led by and for South Asian immigrants and first-generation South Asian women, most of whom are survivors of gender-based violence and widely recognized as leaders in the field. To date, the organization has served over 10,000 survivors through its programs and services. Sakhi uses an integrated, culturally competent approach and works one-on-one with survivors to address individual needs. It also advocates for changes in policy and cultural norms that combat violence at a systemic and societal level.
Sakhi focuses its services on South Asian immigrant women and their children who largely live at or below the poverty line; with few available resources; and at the intersection of xenophobia, housing instability, and instances of violence. On average, two out of five South Asian women are survivors of gender-based violence. Without Sakhi, many clients would otherwise choose to remain in dangerous circumstances rather than claiming their lives for themselves.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on this population. Lockdowns meant that survivors were isolated with their harmers without access to the safe and private networks and supportive services they depend on. Survivors afraid to expose themselves or their children to the virus opted to stay in unsafe situations. The economic impact of the pandemic has meant that many women are worried about their financial instability.
Sakhi’s Transitional Housing Program addresses a critical gap for survivors of gender-based and intimate partner violence who seek to relocate to safe, stable, and affordable housing in New York City. Its staff of multilingual advocates provides survivors with highly-personalized culturally and linguistically appropriate housing assistance, including one-on-one counseling to help clients find permanent housing; apply for subsidies; find affordable housing programs; and access financial assistance for rent, utilities, security deposits, and moving costs. Sakhi has also stabilized survivors by financing up to 24 months of rental assistance and utility payments in addition to providing relocation costs and security deposits.
In 2021, funding from Trinity Church Wall Street enabled Sakhi to serve 96 survivors and their families through its Transitional Housing Program. Of those served, 51 survivors received direct rental assistance from Sakhi. The organization remains responsive and present in survivors' lives during this continued public health crisis.