I am Generation Equality because
“The COVID-19 global pandemic is difficult for everyone, but this crisis hits harder where social protection is thinner,” says Kukaewkasem.
“Migrant women were already one of the most vulnerable groups in our society, and now with the pandemic, their lives have gotten more difficult, especially for those who are experiencing domestic violence. We say, ‘stay home and be safe,’ but what if home is where she feels unsafe?”
“I grew up watching my father abuse my mother. No one did anything to intervene… that might be why I’m doing what I’m doing today.”
“A world without violence… starts with our voice and action.”
The Freedom Restoration Project
Kukaewkasem lives in the city of Mae Sot, north-west Thailand, which has a large migrant population from Myanmar. She founded the Freedom Restoration Project in 2016 to help migrant women and survivors of domestic violence through education programmes and community empowerment.
“Before this pandemic, [we] organized peer support groups with women who faced domestic violence. We can no longer do this because of travel restrictions and physical distancing, so the risk of violence for those who are stuck at home with perpetrators increases,” she explains.
Migrant women are at a higher risk now
In one case during the lockdown, Kukaewkasem’s organization was propelled to rent a room to protect a domestic violence survivor and her children. “A young mother of a five-year-old and 11-month-old was being hit by her husband. She wanted to leave but had nowhere to go and couldn’t leave Mae Sot with the borders closed.”
Additionally, many migrants live in small houses with no running water, putting them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. “The more often they wash their hands, the more often they need to go fetch water, increasing their risk of getting the virus. Washing hands is a luxury for many of the families that we work with,” says Kukaewkasem.
“Now, in addition to providing mental and emotional support, we are also providing food because many families have lost their jobs or have less work because of the COVID-19 crisis.”
“Despite the current challenges, our peer support groups have continued communicating with each other and standing up for each other.”
“I think it is possible for us to have a world without violence, but it starts with our voice and action.”
Photo credits (header image):
Sia Kukaewkasem is the Founder of the Freedom Restoration Project, which helps migrant women and survivors of domestic violence through education programmes and community empowerment. Photo: Courtesy of Dragonfly
Three actions you can take to be part of Generation Equality:
Stand up for survivors of violence in your community
Join the conversation using #GenerationEquality
Donate to local women’s organizations supporting survivors of violence