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Women Aware COO Maria Betanzos Joins Global 16 Days Campaign Panel at Rutgers Douglass College

Message from New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs


NJSFWC Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention

Chairman, Dawn Pogosaew
“It is with a heartfelt thank you that this Chairman writes this article to the many wonderful and incredible students from the Knowledge and Power and Global Village that attended the Global 16 Days Campaign Panel discussion on Monday, November 21st.

The attendees raised $290.00 and $100.00 in Shoprite gift cards which were donated to Women Aware and 165 items collected were donated to “I Support the Girls.”

The evening started with an introduction from Dr. Ousseina Alidou, Professor of African Languages and Literatures Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures. She gave us insight on the global aspects of Femicide and referenced a documentary by Lisa F. Jackson, “The Greatest Silence” and a play also based on sexual violence in Africa called, “Ruined.” NJSFWC (New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs) President Shirley Holly followed with information about NJSFWC and GFWC and how we support the many different organizations and our communities. She shared a personal note about domestic violence and femicide. The panelists were moderated by Political Science MA student and Global Village alumna Zeinab Kone, who smoothly led the panelists discussions through the evening with a variety of prewritten questions which were followed up by questions from the floor.

Panelist Maria Betanzos, Chief Operating Officer of Women Aware, gave insight on survivor centered intervention and shared statistics of 180 homicide victims between 2011 and 2019. 90% of the victims were women attempting to leave their abusive situations. There are now at least 3,000 hearings scheduled for domestic/sexual violence in New Jersey and Women Aware currently has 85 people in secure housing. She also shared her personal experiences helping and learning to listen for what each survivor might need to feel safe.

Panelist Rebecca Vazquez, Director, Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance at Rutgers explained that Rutgers started a task force after a 1989 sexual assault on campus. Now there are many support groups, including student coalitions and advocacy groups, a student run 24 hour hotline, and the formation of Scream Theatre with plays and skits centered around sexual, domestic and dating violence. She spoke about the need to remove barriers and streamline help to survivors. She also emphasized the importance of students speaking up and speaking out about violence. And provide ways in which we can give back the power of control to the survivors.

Panelist Hajar Shirley, Lecturer at Rutgers School of Communications & Information discussed the indirect affects domestic and sexual violence has on an individual and stressed the importance of health equity including the need for survivors to put their own health first. She shared how students, through their own enthusiasm and combined resources could help to end violence and the consequences of femicide.

This Chairman came away from the evening in awe of the fantastic women that work and attend Douglass College. They were all engaged in the discussions and truly cared about the topic and want to make a difference in prevention, awareness and help to survivors of violence. The students were all generous and kind, and truly are becoming the leaders of tomorrow.”