Utah Domestic Violence Council aims to aid members of Asian community affected by abuse

The Utah Domestic Violence Council works with many women's shelters, including the YWCA in Salt Lake City.

Story and photo by DANA IGO

Kenneth Warhola arrived at his Layton home Sept. 8 to find his wife locked in their children’s room. After several attempts to persuade her to open the door he broke it down. She was sitting next to the couple’s two children, Jean, 7, and James, 8, who were covered with a sheet and unresponsive. His wife, Sun Cha Warhola, 44, is charged with strangling them to death.

As the information came out in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, it was learned that disputes between Sun Cha Warhola and her husband had been ongoing for more than four years.

According to the Tribune, Kenneth Warhola was charged with domestic violence in 2007. In another incident both Warholas were charged after an altercation in a parking lot. One report just weeks before the murders showed that Sun Cha Warhola alleged that her husband had sexually abused their children. The Davis County Attorney’s office reviewed the case and determined the accusations were unsubstantiated, as reported by the Tribune.

The Deseret News wrote that before the murders, Sun Cha Warhola called a Korean newspaper in a desperate attempt for help. She told Inseon Cho Kim, director of the Korean Times of Utah, that she dreaded leaving her husband with their children in the event of a divorce.

While all women have difficulty coming forward to get help for domestic abuse, women in the Asian community face a particular quandary. Prevention and educational programs on domestic crime aren’t targeted to Asian women. A report published by the National Asian Women’s Health Organization suggested that this is because society tends to view the Asian population as a “model minority,” meaning that they are viewed as achieving high rates of success.

Asian women have the lowest rate of domestic violence of any of the major racial groups. A small number of Asian and Pacific Islander women, 12.8 percent, reported having experienced physical assault by a partner at least once in their lifetime, according to a study published by the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence. This was the lowest percentage among any racial class surveyed, which was cited by experts as being due to underreporting.

The unwillingness to come forward in cases of domestic violence among Asian women may also be perpetuated by culture.

Dr. Linda Oda, director of Asian Affairs at the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs, said that abuse in Asian families isn’t often reported because their cultural values tend to stress keeping things within the family.

Unlike Western culture, traditional Eastern culture puts emphasis on the family instead of the individual, leaving Asian women feeling less inclined to report physical and domestic abuse.

The Utah Domestic Violence Council (UDVC), 205 N. 400 West, a nonprofit organization with resources throughout the state, is reaching out to the underserved communities across Utah in an effort to prevent future domestic crimes. In preparation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the council’s diversity coordinator, Hildegard Koenig, provided information to the Asian Advisory Council so its eleven members could pass it to their respective communities. She approached the council because it connects the Asian community with Oda and her office.

“By working and educating community leaders and building those strong relationships we can start a dialogue on how we can better assist victims of domestic violence in their communities,” Koenig said.

Sometimes the educational materials fall short. Salman Masud, the council’s representative of the Pakistani community, said the materials offered by the UDVC were only written in a few languages, which narrows the ability of non-English speaking Asian immigrants and refugees to know whom to contact in a domestic abuse situation. Currently the brochures are offered in seven languages, including Chinese, Tongan and Samoan. Koenig is seeking individuals to help translate the material into other languages.

Non-English speakers can call The Utah Domestic Violence Link Line, 800-897-LINK (5465). The hotline is currently available in 144 languages, making it a good resource for members of all communities who may not be able to get the printed materials in his or her language.  Many of the UDVC‘s resources can be accessed online, including special reports, training materials and a map of domestic violence programs throughout the state.

Utah Krishna Temple holds annual Festival of Colors

The Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork

Story, video and photos by ANDREAS RIVERA

When the time came for the flinging of colors and burning of Holika, the temple priest counted down from 20. Hundreds of students waited in anticipation to throw colors at their friends. When the countdown came to one, everybody threw their powder and the temple grounds erupted into a storm of colors. As the dusty air cleared, people were covered in a mixture of pink, purple, yellow, green and other colors. Impatient people had already been dipping into their colors and smearing them on each other, but when the final countdown came, nobody came out from the cloud of colors untouched.

With the end of winter and the dawn of spring comes the Holi Festival, also known as the Festival of Colors. Celebrated all over the world by followers of Hare Krishna, it is one of the largest and best known Hindu holidays.

In Utah, it is celebrated at the Lotus Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork. Many people, who are not even Hindu, come to celebrate the changing of the seasons with traditional Indian festivities. All are invited, especially college students looking for a fun Saturday afternoon.

Caru Das Adikari, the temple priest, said that the festival celebrates diversity.

As the master of ceremonies, he got up on stage and described the origins of the festival. He told the Hindu story of Holika the witch who was immune to fire and would take babies with her into the fire and burn them. One day she took a boy named Prahlad. This boy was a devout follower of Krishna, and prayed every day. So when Holika took Prahlad into the fire, Krishna protected him and it was the witch who burned to death in the fire. Caru said if you put your faith in God, he would always have your back.

Traditionally the festival is celebrated by burning an effigy of Holika. The throwing of colors is the main event of the festival. The colors are a dyed flour, which is imported from India.

This year 20,000 people attended the festival, about double that of last year. Last year’s turnout forced the temple to conduct two separate festivals, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Caru said only 500 Indian families live in the Utah Valley, and even fewer who regularly attend the temple.

Caru said students are so attracted to the festival because it enriches and enhances relationships, both “horizontally” and “vertically.”

“Horizontally, meaning the people around you, and vertically, meaning with God,” he said at the festival.

He said it is known as Brigham Young University’s spring break.

“It is so integrated on BYU, that all you need to do is tell one person on campus the date, and within 40 minutes, everybody knows,” he said.

Caru conducted a poll among the attendees, and discovered 35 percent to 40 percent of the attendees were BYU students.

“At first people will feel uncomfortable, but you look around and you see everyone is having a good time and no one is taking themselves seriously,” he said.

After a 20-second countdown, the temple grounds erupted

The festival is said to have been celebrated for 5,000 years in India and was started by Krishna himself, Caru said. The celebration is on a much bigger scale in India and a lot less organized. It is at such a scale that people will be throwing colors in the streets, at friends and strangers alike.

Caru was born Christopher Warden in New Jersey. In 1969 he traveled to Sydney, Australia, where he visited the Krishna Temple regularly and later became a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He returned to America in 1975 and traveled the country spreading Krishna Consciousness.

According to an essay by BYU student Chad Young, the Utah temple was established by Caru and his wife, Vaibhavi, in 1987. That year, he bought an old AM radio station along with an acre of land in Spanish Fork so that he could conduct a Krishna themed radio station and start a temple. The temple started off in a smaller building, but a newer, more traditional temple was built in 2001 next to the old one. Ever since, they have been maintaining and living on the temple grounds, sharing Krishna culture and traditions such as Holi Festival with Utahns.

“The temple is more of a tourist attraction, we don’t really go around converting one or two people, but we try to spread awareness throughout the area,” Caru said.

On stage, Caru mentioned that the first Holi Festival in Utah 12 years ago only had about a dozen participants throwing colors at one another and chanting together.

Caru said one of his favorite aspects of the festival was the massive chanting of Hare Krishna. “Saying the name of God, effectively gets you closer to God,” he said.

People who go to the festival usually return, Caru said, and each time they do, they gain a greater understanding of what the festival is about.

“If nothing else they take away the Hare Krishna mantra, ringing in their ears for days,” Caru said as he laughed.

The festival featured performers such as the band Mantra Rock and a troupe of traditional Indian dancers, Shatakshi Goyal. Inside the temple, attendees danced and chanted to the rhythmic sounds of India. Participants respected the traditions of the temple and removed their shoes before entering the temple. People who attended the festival were treated to fresh orange juice and could purchase authentic Indian cuisine such as curry with rice.

Brooke Richmond, a sophomore from Utah Valley University, said her roommates dragged her out to the festival. At first she didn’t think it would be fun, but when she got there, she got into the spirit of things.

“I’m definitely going again next year,” Richmond said.

Hilary Dalton, a senior from Hillcrest High School, said it was her second year attending and it gets better every year.

“I love the atmosphere and vibe of the whole gathering,” Dalton said.

Pacific Citizen surviving times of declining traditional media

Story and photo by Andreas Rivera

The Pacific Citizen exists both online and in a monthly print edition.

In September 1929, a small, Asian-run newspaper was first published in San Francisco and has been in print ever since.

Today, The Pacific Citizen is now available both in print and online, and in these times of declining print media, it is still finding ways to connect with its audience.

The PC was started by the Japanese American Citizens League; members have a subscription to the print version of the newspaper that is published and mailed all over the country.

Jeff Itami, a member of the Pacific Citizen’s editorial board,  said the economic problem has affected the paper like any other business. The PC has had to cut operating costs and do some fundraising. According to the PC’s Web site, only six staff members publish the paper, not including contributors.

Even though the paper is part of the JACL, the PC covers a broad variety of issues such as Asian news, profiles of famous Asian Americans and pieces about historical events. It also has no cultural affiliation, meaning its content is not exclusive to Japanese, but to all Asian Americans, said Paul Fisk, co-president of the JACL chapter in Salt Lake City. “It brings a lot of news coverage others don’t.”

Itami said the print version of the Pacific Citizen is declining in circulation. Fisk said membership is steadily declining to the JACL, which could mean declining subscriptions to the PC.

“A lot of our key members are older,” Fisk said. “They are passing away and not a lot of new members are joining.”

About 30,000 people subscribe to the print version, Fisk said, some of whom were Japanese-Americans who were held at internment camps during World War II.

Other reasons for decline in membership are the many splits the JACL experiences due to its stances on certain issues in the media.

Fisk said the JACL lost members during World War II due to its lack of vocalization and action while Japanese-Americans were being interned in camps.

Another, more recent event, occurred when 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps because of his vocal opposition and refusal to take part in the war in Iraq. The JACL supported Watada, while many members thought it was not relevant to them, creating another split in membership, Fisk said.

The number of print subscriptions the PC has does not reflect its reach, Itami said. The paper is focusing on expanding its online popularity.

Despite the decline of the print version of the paper, Itami said the PC is reaching out to a younger audience. Recently the PC reformatted to a magazine format to appeal to younger readers.

“We are connecting to a younger audience through blogging, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube, bringing that traffic to the PC,” Itami said. “Traffic is only going up,”

According to the PC’s Web site, it receives about 450,000 hits per month.

Itami said he is not worried about the PC’s financial future. The PC’s advertising revenue (which accounts for 50 percent of the paper’s income) is increasing.

“The PC is not a luxury,” Itami said, “it’s basic information we all need.”