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2005 Vagina Warriors Lead The Way

Excerpted from the 2005 V-Diaries

Recognition ceremony held during "The Vagina Monologues" at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, March 2005

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What is a Vagina Warrior? Someone who has suffered or witnessed violence, grieved it, transformed it, and then does extraordinary work to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else in their community.

In every community there are humble activists working everyday, beat by beat to undo suffering. They sit by hospital beds, pass new laws, chant taboo words, write proposals, beg for money, demonstrate and hold vigils in the streets. These women and men have dedicated themselves to- ward ending such violence through effective grassroots means. They have been the heart of V-Day since it was conceived as a worldwide movement to empower and enable local activist to raise awareness and funds locally through V-Day benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues.

In order to guarantee a world without violence, in a time of danger and escalating madness, we urged the following Vagina Warriors to come out and join us so together can continue our work. Recognizing these incredible Giovannie Pico2.jpgindividuals is the highlight of Filipina Women’s Network’s V-Day San Francisco 2005. We honor the following Vagina Warriors:

Giovannie Anne Pico was born in Manila and migrated to the U.S. with her family when she was a year old. Before entering show business, Giovannie was in an abusive relationship for four years, living in fear and isolation in a cabin in South Lake Tahoe. Her controlling ex-husband did not allow her to have friends, contact her family or leave the house without him accompanying her. Eventually with the help of her acting coach, she was able to escape with her baby leaving her fear and abusive husband behind.

In her journey to survive her abu- sive relationship, she found passion in the acting industry landing the role of medi- cal student “Ludlow” in the hit television series “ER.” Giovannie is an advocate of FWN and The Vagina Monologues by sharing and publishing her story in our anti violence resource guide.
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Gloria Ramos teaches 6th grade at a Title One school. Her district mandates the inclusion of a Family Life program along with academics. In conjunction with Family Life, which specifically ad- dress violence prevention. Ms. Ramos herself has triumphed over an abusive relationship. Her former spouse was an alcoholic who was alternately critical, controlling, and conducted an extra- marital affair with their live-in maid and denied his behavior.  With the help of family, counselors and her community, Gloria was able to overcome her situation and help those who have experienced similar circumstances.

Kamala D. Harris is a veteran prosecutor who has dedicated her outstanding legal talents to prosecuting violent crime, combating the sexual exploitation of children and working creatively to improve the quality of life in our communities.

Kamala Harris 2.jpgDistrict Attorney Harris committed to bringing San Franciscans a “smart on crime” approach – prosecuting crime with resolve while remaining committed to rehabilitation and placing a priority on preserving civil liberties.

Understanding that many criminal offenses significantly impact our quality-of- life and San Francisco’s business climate, Harris has launched unprecedented programs of outreach to San Francisco communities and has also expanded Community Courts while bringing free legal clinics to immigrant neighborhoods.

Harris has taken a leadership role locally and statewide around program- matic and legislative advances to protect women and children. Her work to defend exploited children recently resulted in successful state legislation that will create increased punishment for those who sexually exploit the youth.

Velma Roset Veloria, is the first Asian American elected to a Velma Veloria photo.jpgstate legislature in the continental U.S. She served as State Representative for District 11 (Southeast Seattle) for four terms. Timothy Black- well’s murder of his Filipino mail-order bride Suzana in front of a courthouse while waiting for a divorce was a catalyst in galvanizing her community to stop violence against women. She gathered a group of state legislators and community leaders to search for solutions. Because of her efforts, her State Legislature was the first in the nation to pass laws that:
 •    Created the crime of trafficking, which includes trafficking for prostitution or other forced or slave labor, and
 •    Require international matchmaking agencies to provide criminal and marital background information, including child-abuse claims and protection order violations, about the person from Washington state using the agency to meet prospective partners.

Rita Villavicencio Schmid was abused by her brother-in-law from age five until she was 20 years old. This was a secret she carried all her life, a secret that dev- astated her relationships and outlook in life. During a visit to the Philippines, she found out that her niece was also abused by the same man. This was a turning point in her decision to Rita Schmid.jpgcome out and share her story with her family and now with us. This decision has caused a lot of pain in the family especially her sis- ter who is still married to the man who abused her and her niece.

Rita is a successful realtor with businesses in New York and California. She is also Vice President of Marketing for The Lodge at Blue Lakes, a beautiful private resort in Lake County.

San Francisco was stunned by the murder of Claire Joyce Tempongko allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, Tari Ramirez, in front of her two young children in October 2000. The Citywide response system in place that October day ultimately failed her and pointed to serious problems in what needs to be a seamless system to those experiencing domestic violence.

In February of 2001, the San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women convened a review team to assist in the investigation and analysis of the City’s response to domestic and family violence.

In the Justice and Courage Report: A Blueprint for San Francisco’s Response to Domestic Violence, the review team identified and recommended systemic solutions to the problems of domestic violence in the city by identifying gaps in services and barriers and developing recommendations to remove those barriers and gaps.

The Justice and Courage Project’s Oversight Panel also recommended Emily_Murase-12_website.jpgforming a Filipina Advisory Council to address domestic violence in the Filipina community.

Established in 1975, the San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women work to ensure equal treatment of women and girls in San Francisco and foster their socio-economic, political, and educational advancement through policies, legisla- tion, and programs, especially for those in need.

Dr. Emily Moto Murase, its Executive Director will receive the award on behalf of the Commission. Dr. Murase previously served as a director in the first Clinton White House and is a Founding Sister of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Insti- tute. She holds an AB from Bryn Mawr College, a master’s from the Graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, and a PhD in communication from Stanford.

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