'Because We are Girls' breaks silence on sexual abuse towards women of colour

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Jeeti Poonir and Baljit Sangra. Image: Gilad Cohen.

With all the progress made in supporting survivors of sexual abuse since the #MeToo movement began, it is easy to forget that there are still many communities who are uncomfortable sharing their experiences. This is especially true for women of colour and immigrants who may lack the resources and stability needed to feel safe in sharing their experiences. Add in an adherence to traditions that encourage young women to stay silent, it becomes extremely difficult to break out of cycles of abuse within your own household.

This is the experience of Jeeti Pooni and her two sisters, Salakshana and Kira, none of whom realized that they all experienced abuse from their cousin Manjit Virk until Jeeti was 22 years old. After a lengthy trial that was stonewalled by Manjit, and despite a guilty conviction, Canadian Supreme Court decisions intended to guarantee a timely trial have been exploited by abusers to avoid prison time.

Despite these setbacks, Jeeti has recently been using her platform to advocate for sexual abuse survivors, such as through the documentary Because We Are Girls, which shows survivors that there is a path forward.

Jeeti and director Baljit Sangra join hosts Gilad Cohen and Simona Ramkisson to discuss their experience sharing the film with other survivors, how the justice system can better support people living with trauma, and why she has hope for future generations.

Note: this interview was recorded after Virk's conviction was overturned. We recommend following Jeeti's story here for more updates on how to best support her and her sisters.

Download the episode transcript here.

Hosted by Gilad Cohen (founder, JAYU) and Simona Ramkisson, produced and edited by Brandon Fragomeni and Alex Castellani. Associate producer: Ron Ma.

Image: Gilad Cohen

Theme music created for The Hum by Jeff Morrow.

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