Washington, DC – Aparna Bhattacharya, speaking of her recent honor by the White House as a “Champion of Change,” described the award program as “a brilliant idea to recognize the work of amazing women on human trafficking, domestic violence, immigration rights, human rights, that folks are working on, or for access to health care.”
Speaking to India America Today, she added, “Most of us were surprised that we were being honored, because lot of times we do this work not for recognition, but just to make a difference in communities, because our communities are so important for us.”
Domestic violence is a topic many people don’t want to talk about within the South Asian or Indian American community, Bhattacharya said.
“Often times people don’t understand the depth of the work, or we want to say somebody else is impacted, when the reality is that the entire community is impacted,” she said, explaining the attitudes of indifference and avoidance she encounters.
Bhattacharya called on the entire community to become engaged and committed to ending domestic violence. “We have a role in how we raise our sons and what we tell them and how we raise our daughters.” Instead of being silent spectators when active violence happens around us, she encourages taking action, “and that would make a difference in how violence is perpetrated.”
“So its important that we find ways to get involved, but also find ways to not let violence happen in our community,” Bhattacharya said, adding that having conversations and breaking the silence surrounding abuse would contribute significantly to decreasing domestic violence.
Bhattarcharya was one of two Indian Americans among 15 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women honored on May 6 at a ceremony by the White House as “Champions of Change” for their outstanding contribution to the community.
A passionate advocate for immigrant survivors of family and sexual violence, who has worked to ensure they have access to safety, justice and healing, Bhattacharyya is the current Executive Director of Raksha, a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia. Raksha, which means “protection” in several South Asian languages, works to strengthen the South Asian community through confidential support services, education, and advocacy. She has worked to ensure that attorneys, law enforcement, and service providers are culturally competent to serve immigrant survivors. Bhattacharyya is also currently a board member for the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, VIDA Legal Assistance, and the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.