The African Women's Coalition will be holding a press conference and meeting to discuss the issue of domestic violence within the African immigrant community at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 at the Center for Intercultural Organizing, 700 N. Killingsworth St.
The meeting is being held in response to the tragic murder of Nabitou Kelekele, a Congolese mother of five children. Nabitou's husband, Namegabe, is accused of murdering Nabitou in the early morning hours of March 16 in front of the couple's children. Nabitou was well-connected with the African Women's Coalition and was known and liked by many of its members.
AWC Executive Director Evelyne Ello-Hart said the purpose of Thursday's discussion is to allow African women to speak out about this issue and honor Nabitou's life with a moment of silence. African men will also speak out against domestic violence and the lack of culturally specific services to help men who abuse family members.
Ello-Hart says the current system of support for victims of domestic violence does not address the cultural needs of African women and men. In creating healthy communities, Ello-Hart said it is vital that both men and women feel comfortable and safe in finding workable and culturally relevant solutions to the problems surrounding domestic violence.
"In Cote d'Ivoire, if a husband beats his wife, she would pack her suitcases and go to a relative's house," said Ello-Hart. "Her relatives would contact the husband's relatives to negotiate reparations before she would return to live with him. If it happened again, there would be divorce."
Many African women feel isolated from their friends and family when living in temporary shelters, she said, leading many to abandon the safety nets and return to their abusive partners. Some also don't want to see their partners arrested, leading many women not to seek help.
For more information, please contact AWC Executive Director Evelyne Ello-Hart at 503-544-8175.