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March 2022: Letter from the Director

Updated: Mar 8

Dear Friends of SARA,


Like many of you, my attention has been drawn to the war in Ukraine the last several days. We are a world in humanitarian strife and calamity. From wars and pandemics, to attacks on LGBTQ+ communities, racial justice, and education, to climate threat, there is much that leave us vulnerable to harm—some much more so than others.


At SARA, we look at various forms of oppression with the understanding that it all intersects and impact the work we do. Working to fulfill our mission of ending sexual and gender violence requires us then to support the end of oppression and injustice everywhere. Here are a few ways we’ve done that recently.


We partner with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, a coalition of sexual and domestic violence resource agencies in Virginia, to set Legislative Priorities each year. These guide our advocacy efforts to introduce, implement, and iterate on legislation. This year, we have voiced support for legislation the increases funding to the sexual and domestic violence prevention fund, strengthening protections for those experiencing workplace harassment (SB 494), and the repeal of Virginia’s discriminatory ban on LGBTQ marriage (SJ 5 and HJ 57). We have opposed bills that would increase abuser access to firearms (HB 1051) as well as bills that limit survivor access to healthcare, including abortion (HB 212). While this is not an exhaustive list of our legislative priorities, it is representative of our commitment to preventing sexual violence from occurring by creating more equitable and safe communities. There are two more weeks left in the legislative calendar. If you are interested in learning more or participating in legislative advocacy, you can find out more at the Action Alliance Legislative Advocacy page.


Last week, I had an opportunity to share ideas and collaborate with UVA visiting scholar, Moussa Yéro Bah, who leads a women’s rights organization Women's Development & Human Rights in Guinea, West Africa. While the work we do is local, the problem is global. While in some ways, SARA is the older sister for emerging organizations such as Yero’s, we have much to learn from our sister organizations in places like Guinea who have fought oppression, violence, and racism of colonial rule for centuries. As she and her colleague Nomi Dave wrote, this global conversation of intersecting oppressions is not new in Africa: “Guinea shows how intimately black Atlantic lives are connected through shared pain, protest, and hope” as they struggled for decolonization and civil rights. Forging relationships across town and across the globe enrich our understanding of the work at hand.


Gratefully,


Renee Branson


From left to right: Nomi Dave, Moussa Yéro Bah, Renee Branson, Karen James.

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