London Defender

The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Making a Difference: An Interview with Humanitarian Vyshakhi Kashinath

The modern world is challenging and can be difficult to navigate. Fortunately, there are people out there who are committed to positively affecting the world and society at large.

Vyshakhi Kashinath is one of those people, and her unyielding dedication to humanitarian work has positively impacted countless lives. Today, we bring you an exclusive interview with Vyshakhi, where we discuss her important work, its motivations, and its impact on humanitarianism.

1)         Do you think it’s essential to do research in the field of domestic violence?

I believe that research that tells the story of gender-based Violence in the US, Canada, UK and other countries is essential to making change. WCAO strives to use its role as a Global organization and network to conduct research initiatives with a Global scope that supports the collection and dissemination of data that can be used to guide policy change and advocacy. WCAO is committed to sharing the findings of its research initiatives with others to use in ways that support their own advocacy, education, and policy initiatives. Wherever possible, each of our research initiatives includes opportunities for knowledge exchange in various engaging and accessible formats.

2)         What research are you currently conducting?

WCAO is currently undertaking a global survey and research initiative to collect data on sexual violence services in different countries. The industry’s goal is to gather data on the state of sexual violence services from across the globe that can be used to guide advocacy, identify critical gaps and barriers, and provide the information needed to strengthen current services.

 We also have launched a survey for practitioners on distance counselling for sexual violence. The survey findings revealed how practitioners have adapted and innovated in the face of increased pressures and client loads. We compiled all these learnings into a report; it is full of tangible tools and takeaways for counsellors.

3)How do we prevent domestic violence?

To prevent sexual violence, our collective attention needs to shift toward its root causes. We must examine the social conditions currently enabling and encouraging sexually abusive behaviours. Domestic violence is about power and control. The choice to use sexual violence against someone is rooted in oppressive attitudes and beliefs about those who are valued in our society and those who are not. Those who commit sexual violence feel justified in their actions because sexual violence is consistently minimized and normalized by the world around us. When it comes to sexual violence prevention, it is pretty standard for prevention strategies to be directed at potential victims instead of those who choose to use abusive behaviours.

For this reason, those strategies have been ineffective at preventing sexual violence as a complex social issue. Traditional prevention tips tend to be directed at women in particular. For example:

•           Don’t go out late at night

•           Cover your drink, or don’t get drunk

•           Don’t wear revealing clothing

•           Walk in groups or stay near your friends

•           Don’t find yourself alone with someone you don’t know

•           Take self-defence classes

Individuals have a right to do what makes them feel safe. However, these individual risk-reduction strategies will not prevent sexual violence overall as they are not focused on influencing the behaviours of potential offenders.

4)         Do you think intentions are always good and perfectly executed?

While well-intentioned, in addition to being ineffective, prevention strategies can harm those who experience sexual violence.

It is suggested that individuals are responsible for preventing their victimization. Following a sexual assault, they can lead survivors and their support people to question what they did or didn’t do to cause the assault. This is an understandable attempt to make sense of something incomprehensible. However, it is often the source of deep shame and self-blame for many survivors. Those who are harmed by sexual violence are never to blame. Those who use abusive behaviours are fully responsible for their actions – the bottom line is that a survivor would not have been sexually abused or assaulted had another person not chosen to use abusive behaviours against them.

We need to stop focusing on the behaviours of those who experience sexual violence and examine how our society continues cultivating people who feel justified in their choices to use sexual violence against others.

Most traditional prevention strategies stem from widespread misconceptions about sexual violence. Instead, effective sexual violence prevention strategies need to be rooted in an understanding of why sexual violence occurs and need to be informed by the realities of sexual violence.

5)         What kind of training is provided to the staff and volunteers?

 Training is in place intending to build the capacity of professionals, paraprofessionals, and community members to respond effectively to disclosures of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Survivors who receive safe and supportive responses to disclosures of sexual violence are more likely to seek help from medical and counselling services and/ or report to the police. Also, we have another training That intends to increase comfort and knowledge by supporting people who have been recently sexually assaulted, providing comprehensive trauma-informed services in any setting, standardizing terminology, and interventions implications of injuries, and collecting or preserving evidence.

6)         Is there any new campaign you are part of?

#WeBeliveyou It is based on having a tangible impact on the health and safety of our community by committing to one simple idea: when a survivor of sexual assault discloses, we say we believe them.

The campaign took hold in campuses and communities across the globe reaching over 100 million people. It changed attitudes and behaviour.

The number of people who would give a positive, compassionate response to a sexual assault survivor went from 21% to 72%, and the number of people who would use the words “I Believe You” grew from <1% to 21%. This is a tremendous shift in a short period.

7) You shared a lot about your work; what are your personal goals?

My personal and professional goals are intertangled. It happens because I spend a lot of my day doing the things, I genuinely believe in. Life has taught me the most powerful lesson, and that is TODAY. Today is all that is assured, and what I can do today is all that counts. So, I will keep moving daily and embrace the happiness of living in the moment. Giving back to the communities and helping people who need that extra support is vital. My goal is to be a pathway for them to live their life the way they deserve.

8) You are an entrepreneur as well. Any new ventures?

Yes, we are expanding. We renovated our steakhouse recently and opened a new venture, A burger shack called Cuts by Medium Rare. It’s located in a premium outlet mall in Alberta, Canada, and we serve everything fresh, from sauces to produce, patties to bun; everything is made on the house, and all the meat used is 100% Canadian.

Final Note:

We had the best time chatting with you, thank you for the insight and best wishes for all your future ventures.

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