South Asian Sisters

South Asian Sisters is a diverse collective of progressive South Asian women dedicated to empowering our community to resist all forms of oppression through art, dialogue, conscious alliances, and grassroots political action. We are dedicated to organizing “Yoni ki Baat,” an annual performance that encourages women to speak out against violence and end the stigma around our bodies and our sexualities.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Call for Proposals: Paid Internship!

Who We Are:
South Asian Sisters is a diverse collective of progressive South Asian women dedicated to empowering our community to resist all forms of oppression through art, dialogue, conscious alliances, and grassroots political action.

We are dedicated to organizing “Yoni ki Baat,” an annual performance that encourages women to speak out against violence and end the stigma around our bodies and our sexualities.

South Asian Sisters, a not-for-profit organization is offering a paid internship ($250 - $1000) to qualified applicants to conduct research and advocacy work to empower young women in our community. The commitment required is 4 hours/week for a period of 6 months. If you receive academic credit, the duration of the internship would be as long as the duration of the academic semester.

Strong writing skills, computer proficiency, work ethic, and attention to detail required. Some previous experience with non-profit organizations, development work and publicity are preferred. Students interested in a career in non-profit administration, women’s rights, and performance arts should apply. Ability to work independently or with multiple supervisors. Ability to multitask, work in diverse communities and be courteous to others.

How to apply:
Please send us a brief cover letter describing the advocacy project you would like to work on and include a budget under $1,000. Please note that 25% of the internship involves aiding us with administrative/programmatic activities as directed. Include a resume and send by email to

Deadline: July 1, 2006 but we will accept applications until the position is filled.

More information is available at
or contact: Sapna Shahani at 510-708-0970 or by email

Friday, May 26, 2006

Statement from National Alliance of People's Movements Regarding Caste-Based Reservations

c/o A wing, 1st Floor, Haji Habib Bldg.,NaigaonCross Rd., Dadar (E),
Phone 022-24150529,,,

Press Note/ May 21, 2006
* *


* *

The People's Movements all over India demand that the Union government must
implement the constitutional amendment to reserve the seats for the other
backward communities without any delay and see that all the earlier
policies, decisions assurances regarding the affirmative actions in favour
of the backward castes are implemented fully.

We condemn the deliberate lethargy on part of governments regarding
implementing already approved policies of Mandal Commision recommendations.
Even now, thousands of seats in educational and professional arena are not
filled - rather they are made 'open' for want of 'suitable candidates' from
the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes or backward classes. We demand that
all the unfilled seats must be filed with the due representation of the
concerned classes.

With this we make a strong plea for strengthening the common school policy,
common technical and higher education policy and equipping them with quality
education, resources and due attention. The newly introduced elitist
streak in the higher technical education should be abolished. There should
be common public institutions imparting finest quality technical and
professional education. The privatization and coprporatization of
education and highly technical profession must stop. They are being educated
and employed on the basis of public spending. So they must follow the wishes
of the people of this country. Therefore there should also be reservations
for the backward classes in private enterprises.

For Efficiency and Creativity

The policy of reservations for the deprived classes in the higher and
technical education and professions is an opportunity to add to the quality,
creativity and efficiency in the educational and professional fields. The
reservations must be seen not as 'doling out' something for the 'deprived
classes', but it is mark of adding to the experiences, creativity and
knowledge bases of various aspects in our public life. Over 70 percent of the
workforce in the country is not just manual laborers; they come with their
own intelligence, imaginativeness, innovations and resourcefulness. It would
make our productive processes and economy varied and richer. Just look at
U.S. and other countries where all sections of populations are brought in
the vortex of education, sports and other professions. We have to be proud
of the fact that we would be much richer nation with the participation of
such brains in our social-economic activities in such a large and varied

From all these angles, it is high time that the private institutions,
industries and service sector also must be made to accept the reservation
policy. These industries will have to be made aware that they operate in
India, and they will have to follow the Indian Constitution and law. If they
threaten to go outside India, let them go and we shall see whether they get
such subsidized water, land, cheap labour, pliant state elsewhere in the
world. These industrialists are not making any favor for the people; rather
they exploit the people and resources of this country. In this connection,
we also disapprove and will oppose the policies of creating 'special
economic zones' (SEZ), where no India laws would be applicable.

Though we quite understand the apprehensions in the minds of the students
and professionals from the general categories regarding the narrowing space
for competition, that alone cannot be reason for opposing the reservations
for the hitherto backward communities. The Union and concerned state
governments should initiate the steps as to help the poor and deprived
students and professionals in the general category.

The unemployment and narrowing down the space for more employment and
educational opportunities is not due to the reservations of seats, but due
to the neo-liberal political economy that the ruling class in India has
adopted in collusion with the global capital. Even without the reservations,
the employment and education opportunities in various jobs in India are
being eroded and thousands of people are thrown out of existing jobs. We
demand that the Union and state governments must end the embargo on the jobs
in the public sector and should start thinking of creating more jobs.

We appeal to the agitating students and professionals not to hold
reservations responsible for their anxiety and to understand the deeper
economic crisis we all have been thrown. We also expect the supporters of
the reservations to reason with the agitating students and take them along,
caring for their sensitivities and interests. The young student and
professional community must not be pitted against each other, who otherwise
are the harbinger of the future changes and struggle in this country. We
have to strengthen a united struggle against the common adversary in form of
national and multinational corporate and imperialist vested interests.

* *
Medha Patkar
National Convenor **

* *
*Sanjay M.G.*
*P. Chennaiah*
National Co-Convenors

* *
*Sanjay Sangvai*

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lakireddy Bali Reddy Denied Early Release

Press Release

ASATA, Maitri, and South Asian Sisters

For Immediate Release

Monday 22nd May 2006

Lakireddy Bali Reddy denied early release.

Judge Claudia Wilkens reinstated the sentence of Lakireddy Bali Reddy, and all the conditions of release after the completion of 97 months was reinstated. This was a huge victory for community organizations, who have been working on the case for the past six years, and have put in tremendous effort to educate the community about the heinous crimes committed by Lakireddy Bali Reddy.

The courtroom was filled with Lakireddy’s supporters, and advocates for his victims. The U.S Attorney's office had recommended reinstating the sentence based on the probation report. Defense attorney Ted Cassmen minimized the trauma experienced by the victims, arguing that the emotional trauma was not that extreme, and what victims experienced was not more than one may expect when a crime of this nature is committed. The defense lawyers also downplayed the role played by Reddy in the obstruction of justice. Instead, he argued, if any obstruction of justice was done, it was by the translator Uma Rao.

Anirvan Chatterjee from the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action was relieved at the conclusion of the hearing. “We’re happy with the outcome,” he said. “Justice for Reddy’s victims has been slow to arrive, but this verdict sends the message that expensive lawyers can’t erase exploitation.”

Says Mukta Sharangpani from Maitri, “In addressing cases such as this one, one must look at the systemic inequalities that make possible such situations. These conditions give rise to an economic desperation which compels families to make incredibly hard choices, and young girls to look upon their abusers as their protectors.”

Leena Kamat from South Asian Sisters highlighted the exploitation inherent in Reddy’s action. “This case involved a mix of the worst kinds of exploitation, involving gender, caste, immigration status, and age discrimination. It was disappointing that more attention was not brought to this case in the community. It would have been a travesty if the sentencing was reduced over the claims given.”

In March of 2001, the U.S. Federal Court found Lakireddy Bali Reddy (owner of Pasand Restaurant in Berkeley and Santa Clara) guilty on counts of bringing undocumented immigrants to the U.S. for immoral sexual purposes. Since 1986 Reddy has brought many undocumented immigrants to the United States to have sex with him and to work for little or no pay in his many businesses and apartments. Reddy in a plea bargain arrangement pled guilty to charges of trafficking of girls for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual activity, of conspiracy, and of fraud and received a relatively light sentence. Specifically, Reddy admitted to a Federal Court that he illegally brought into the U.S. girls under the age of 16, including a girl as young as 13, for unlawful sex. All his victims were minors at the time they were brought into United States. Besides being culturally and socially isolated, they were also sexually abused.

Reddy put his victims in a situation where for many years they were unable to learn their rights and did not realize what freedom meant. This is not because such sexual predation is culturally acceptable in India. The victims and survivors on this case were scared of Reddy’s power and they were unaware of how American law could protect them. We cannot speak on behalf of the victims, but as community members, we feel that an early release is re-victimizing the victim, and while his business continues to thrive and he continues to be respected in the general Indian community, there has been no remorse for his actions.

Trafficking in children and women is unfortunately a familiar reality in many parts of the world. This crime steals children and women from their families, and subjects them to physical and emotional abuse. According to a Congressional Research Service report for Congress trafficking of people for prostitution and forced labor is one of the fastest growing areas of international criminal activity. An estimated 1 to 2 million people are trafficked each year worldwide; with as many as 50,000 to the United States. An overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women and children.


ASATA, the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, works to educate, organize, and empower the Bay Area South Asian communities to end violence, oppression, racism and exploitation. ASATA was founded around the Reddy case in 2000, and has been a visible force at his hearings, standing in solidarity with the victims in the case, while engaging in community outreach and advocacy. You can find out more about ASATA and its work online at

Maitri is a free, confidential, nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, which helps South Asian women facing domestic violence, emotional abuse or family conflict. We provide peer support and referrals to legal help, emergency shelters and counselors. You can reach the Maitri hotline at 888 8-MAITRI; you can also call our office at 408 436-8393. Our email address is and our website is

South Asian Sisters is a diverse collective of progressive South Asian women dedicated to empowering our community to resist all forms of oppression through art, dialogue, conscious alliances, and grassroots political action. We are dedicated to organizing “Yoni ki Baat,” an annual performance that encourages women to speak out against violence and end the stigma around our bodies and our sexualities. You can find out more about the group at


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Reddy Resentencing Hearing Monday, May 22

*PLEASE* forward widely..
If inapplicable to you specifically then please
forward to:
-Local Student Groups
-Other email forums that can help get the word out

For REDDY's victims: Mon, May 22, 2:30pm
Stand up for Lakireddy Bali Reddy's victims at his
resentencing hearing
Monday, May 22 - meet outside at 2:00pm
Session begins at 2:30pm
In the court room of The Honorable Claudia Wilken
United States District Court, Northern District of CA

1301 Clay St, Oakland, CA (Courtroom 2, 4th
Inside Oakland Federal Building
Nxt to Oak 12th St. /City Center BART

In 2001, Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy
pled guilty to trafficking
young Indian girls from poor low-caste families for
forced sex, and dozens of poor workers to work in
his businesses under extremely bad working
conditions. One of his victims died, and many are
now recovering in India.

Reddy's been granted a resentencing, claiming that
his victims'
testimonies were coerced, and that the trauma
they suffered was
overstated--but legal maneuverings can't make us
forget the powerful Reddy family's exploitation of
poor rural South Indian men, women, and girls.

Join us at Reddy's resentencing hearing, as we let
the courts know:


Hello Everyone,

Reddy is the owner of Reddy Realty and owns a
disgusting amount of Berkeley's property --
restaurants and apartment buildings included.
Approximately 6 years ago towards the end of
2000, a young girl died of carbon monoxide
poisoning in her apartment, and her sister,
managed to survive. This was the first crack that
lead to the ' Reddy Scandal' which uncovered the
fact that he was importing young women from
South India, taking advantage of them sexually and
subjecting his other laborers, whom he hired
illegally (in restaurants and such) to deplorable
working conditions.

He wants to get his 7/8 year sentence reduced to 3
and 1/2 years.
Seeing as Monday is a working day -- it is much
harder for people out-of-school to get out of work
commitments, but IT'S JUST ONE DAY.

There also has not been much publicity about this,
as you can imagine, so that the turn out of
protesters on the day of the actual trial is low, or at
least kept to a bare minimum.
We cannot let him get away with this.
He is trying to get his sentence slashed down to
almost HALF the amount of time he was originally
set for, and may be out in 3 and 1/2 years if his
request is honored by the judge.

I need you to fwd along this msg to other email
forums you may be on, to family & friends, people
local to the area - STUDENT GROUPS (who aren't
tied down to work as much) and to ANY and
EVERY person you think can get together at the
Oakland Courthouse on Monday to PROTEST this
re-sentence trial.

The courtroom seats about 40 people -- we need at
least 60 to be literally outside the door, so that the
judge can see that this cannot and will NOT be
tolerated by the South Asian Community.

There are at LEAST 200,000 South Asians in the
SF/ bay area alone, and only 200 or so people
showed up to protest the sentence last time. That
is shameful. We are trying to branch out to all
community members in opposing this.

Reddy's exploitation CANNOT go unnoticed, and
we need your help.
Groups such as: Narika, Maitri, and Asata are also
working with us on this.

PLEASE PRINT OUT the flyer and distribute it
around campus, forward it to other student groups
like I said before, and just get the word out so that
people show up to ththe Courthouse on Monday to
prove to the judge, and Reddy that he won't get
away with this, and to show the victims, that they
have not been forgotten by their ccommunity
Thanking you in advance,

Anjali Verma
South Asian Sisters

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yoni Ki Baat 2006 -- Deadline Extended!

please forward widely!


Yoni Ki Baat 2006

A brand-new selection of monologues, presented by South Asian Sisters

"Yoni ki Baat" is back for its fourth fabulous year!
We have confirmed that South Asian women are ready speak out about their bodies, their sexualities, and, yes, their yonis (yoni= vagina in Sanskrit)! This is an open call for our sisters to get creative and share any stories about their yonis, including topics such as, but not limited to:

* hair
* body image
* motherhood
* birth
* culture
* abuse
* menstruation
* smell
* genital mutilation
* orgasm
* pleasure
* masturbation
* sexual orientation
* rewriting stories
* reclaiming language (cunt, bitch, etc.)

Or, if you're stuck on what to write about, we've got some questions for you:

* What does your yoni enjoy most about being a south asian woman?
* Could you give up your razor (thread? wax?) for a month?
* Do you remember your first hair removal experience?
* Is your family or community desperate to marry you off?
* Has a well-meaning aunty ever gotten into your business?
* Have you ever "shocked" the aunties and uncles?
* What is the most frustrating issue in south asian culture facing women today?
* Which Bollywood heroine/ hero does your yoni pine for or aspire to be?
* What language does your yoni speak?
* What Bollywood film would your yoni star in?
* What Bollywood song would your yoni sing?
* What is your yoni's bio-data/ matrimonial?
* What name does your yoni prefer to be called by?
* What is the immigration status of your yoni?
* What is your yoni's weapon?
* What does your yoni smell like?
* If your yoni could run for president, what would be the first item on her agenda?
* If your yoni could say two words, what would they be?

Submissions will remain anonymous upon request and may be incorporated
into our upcoming "Yoni Ki Baat" show in the Bay Area.

If you've always thought about submitting a piece, this is the year to actually do it.

Please send any ideas, answers, poems, essays, stories, or musings --
we can't do the show unless we have your contributions! Your contributions create the mood and experience of the show, please share your voices with us!

Be on the lookout for more information about "Yoni Ki Baat" in the coming weeks.

Please send your submissions by June 1, June 30, 2006 to:


South Asian Sisters
1642 Fell Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Sunday, April 09, 2006

South Asian Organizations' Statement on Immigration Reform

In light of the statement below, we urge everyone to attend an April 10 event.



For More Information:

Deepa Iyer, SAALT (National) 301-589-0389

Amardeep Singh, Sikh Coalition (NYC) 212-655-3095

Hamid Khan, South Asian Network (Los Angeles) 562-403-0488

For a Full List of Organizations, Please See Below.

As representatives of organizations that serve South Asians across the United States – from empowering women, workers and youth to protecting the civil rights and liberties of ethnic and religious minorities – we see firsthand the impact of the immigration system on our community. As Congress prepares to pass the broadest immigration reform law in decades, we urge lawmakers to adopt sensible and humane solutions to fix the broken immigration system in the United States.

The South Asian community is predominantly foreign-born, with individuals tracing their backgrounds to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the diaspora, including the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. Any immigration law passed by Congress will undoubtedly affect the entire community as well as future immigrants.

Our organizations have already witnessed the impact of anti-immigrant sentiment, xenophobia and ill-conceived policies implemented by federal, state and local law enforcement on the South Asian community. We assist low-wage workers who work in the domestic service, restaurant and retail industries and often face difficult conditions and exploitation in the workplace. We advocate on behalf of survivors of domestic violence who are in need of assistance from social workers, lawyers and counselors. We hear from South Asians who have been waiting for years to be reunited with their family members due to the enormous backlog of visa applications. And we provide services to South Asian youth, many of whom are undocumented and are denied avenues to citizenship and higher education.

Congress has an opportunity now to identify humane and sensible measures to address many of these situations. However, the House of Representatives disappointed immigrants in December of last year by passing a bill that would criminalize those with undocumented status and would make the provision of services to undocumented immigrants a violation of the law in some contexts.

Now, it is the Senate’s turn to pass a bill on immigration issues. Two bills are before the Senate right now – one that passed the Judiciary Committee, and another introduced by Majority Leader Senator Frist. Both contain harsh enforcement provisions which would take a significant toll on immigrant communities around the country.

While the Senate bill that passed the Judiciary Committee contains some positive provisions - including the legalization of over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US and the expansion of educational and vocational opportunities for young people with undocumented status – its harsh stance towards enforcement of immigration law undercuts many of the highlights. These enforcement provisions would allow non-citizens to be indefinitely detained; would criminalize minor offenses such as the failure to file a change of address form; and would give local police the authority to enforce complex immigration laws locally, paving the way for mistakes, profiling, and distrust.

Legislation that does not balance the civil rights of immigrants will lead to separated families, isolation and fear, and distrust of law enforcement and government officials. We believe that our country’s immigration policies must reflect fundamental civil and human rights principles, which include:

· Establishing a path to permanent residency and citizenship for undocumented immigrants

· Opposing criminalization of undocumented status and expansion of grounds for indefinite detention.

· Reducing the visa backlog by eliminating visa caps and expediting the processing of applications

· Promoting citizenship and civic participation

Our organizations come together from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that embraces these principles. We also make this statement today to urge our community members to make their voices heard to lawmakers about the urgency for fair immigration reform.


Adhikaar (New York City)

Andolan (New York City)

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (San Francisco)

Coney Island Avenue Project (New York City)

Desist (San Francisco)

Desis Rising Up and Moving (New York City)

Friends of South Asia (San Francisco)

Manavi (New Jersey)

Narika (San Francisco)

Raksha (Atlanta)

Sakhi for South Asian Women (New York City)

Sikh Coalition (New York City)

South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (Washington DC area)

South Asian Progressive Action Collective (Chicago)

South Asian Sisters (San Francisco)

South Asian Network (Los Angeles)

South Asian Youth Action (New York City)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Day of Dialogue -- March 12!

What: South Asian Sisters Day of Dialogue

A safe, supportive, and inspiring space for women of
all walks of life to discuss the numerous issues that
surround our womanhood.

Where: Mills College Solidarity Lounge and Student

When: Sunday March 12 from 10 AM-6 PM (All day, come
and go as you wish! We also invite you to stay after 6
PM for dinner and follow up plans)

Who: All Sisters

Extra: Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided

Sessions include the following. Details and schedule
will be sent out soon.

*Exotifiied Women/De-masculinized Men : A Strategic
Talk About South Asian Sex and Identity


*Alternatives to Traditional Relationships

*Gender in Multiracial Progressive Spaces

*Son Preference and Sex Selection

*Women in Performing Arts

*Getting Emotional Support