Arte Sana National Latina Victim Advocate Awards
Honoring our hermanas/os en la lucha

Statistics show that by the year 2050, the Latino population will reach 102.6 million, thus representing 24 percent of the nation’s total population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). Based on these figures as well as crime victimization projections, it is estimated that 8,891,667 Latinas will suffer some form of sexual violence by the year 2050.

The two keys to building Latino community awareness of victim rights and services are fluid communication and accessibility of information. Yet often times for certain communities, the messengers are few and overtaxed.

Furthermore, public information regarding victim services offered in Spanish is inconsistent and at times misleading. This is due to the fact that for many agencies, second language victim service accessibility depends on a limited and often overtaxed number of bilingual staff or volunteers. Many rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters do not have a Spanish speaking advocate at all. In some cases the only response a Spanish speaking victim receives when making a crisis call is, “I’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish,” while in other cases, other Latina survivors or residents of a dual center are called upon to interpret when bilingual staff is unavailable.

As a result, many bilingual employees of victim service centers often find themselves overtaxed, underpaid, and sometimes expected to fulfill or supervise most of the center's translation and interpretation needs. Latina advocates, like other women of color, also run the risk of being disregarded and tokenized within victim service agencies when they attempt to address the multiple needs of their clients.
 
While limited budgets keep many victim service agencies in a state of overextension, with the demand exceeding limited service capabilities, the fear of having to attend to additional survivors may keep many agencies from doing effective outreach to non-English speaking communities.
 
Thus, the ability of victim service agencies to adequately meet the growing needs of Latinas/os will depend on proactive responses aimed at engaging Latina/o groups as active participants in violence prevention, rather than just as recipients of victim services.
 
In an effort to honor those who are currently helping to eliminate access barriers for Latina victims of sexual and intimate partner violence and have developed or implemented culturally competent strategies to engage and empower underserved Latinas, Arte Sana established the National Latina Victim Advocate Awards. In 2005 the agency sent out a call for nominations from state coalitions, rape crisis and dual service centers.
Four categories with corresponding eligibility criteria were delineated:
 
* SIN Fronteras - Community Empowerment
Eligibility:  rape crisis center, domestic violence shelter, social service agency
Criteria:  generated awareness and contributed to bridging the gap among diverse, under-served immigrant and Spanish monolingual populations through community outreach events, bilingual materials development, cross training, etc.
 
* Artista Activista - Empowerment through the Arts
Eligibility:  individuals (artists, musicians, poets, survivors, victim advocates) or advocacy groups
Criteria:  used the arts as a vehicle for victim advocacy, building awareness, and /or promoting healing
 
* Comadre en la Lucha - Latina Leadership
Eligibility:  executive directors, supervisors, victim advocates from local, state, or national entities
Criteria:  has demonstrated a measurable commitment (positions, training opportunities, board representation, budget allocations, etc.) to develop and promote Latina victim advocacy and professional development
 
* Lucha - Social Change
Eligibility:  individuals (survivors, community activists etc) and Non-VAWA/VOCA-funded agencies and programs, businesses, universities
Criteria:  actions have created a long-lasting impact by drawing attention or eliminating barriers for Latina/o victims of sexual and intimate partner violence
 
In 2005 Arte Sana received many nominations from across the country. In 2006, Arte Sana received award nominations from Alaska, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
 
Each year, award selections have been determined by an independent national judging panel comprised of Arte Sana staff and members of the Alianza Latina en contra la Agresión Sexual, ALAS (Latina Alliance against Sexual Aggression).
 
In honoring the role of art as an educational and healing vehicle, each recipient receives a unique hand-painted award from Arte Sana.
 
Arte Sana encourages others to honor those who have helped eliminate access barriers for Latina/o survivors, as well as those who have developed or implemented culturally competent strategies to engage and empower underserved communities.  We also encourage you to continue to honor and empower the unsung ‘comadres en la lucha’ in your own states. A heartfelt gracias to all participating agencies and those who took the time to honor their co-workers, directors, and allies with a nomination.
 
Read more about the 2005 National Latina Victim Award Recipients
Read more about the 2006 National Latina Victim Award Recipients
 
Further Reading
 
Article: The Anti-Rape Movement without Latinas?
by Laura Zárate, Arte Sana Founding Executive Director & ALAS Facilitator, March 2006
[1] U.S. Census Bureau, “Facts for Features, Hispanic Heritage Month 2006.” September 2006

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