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February 28, 2005

Women’s Advocates Honored

Four people were honored earlier this month for their efforts to prevent violence against women and girls, as part of the University’s participation in the V-Day 2005 college campaign.

It has become a tradition in the past few years for colleges and universities around the world to present benefit productions of Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues, to raise funds and awareness to stop violence against women through grassroots efforts. Part of V-Day also includes celebrating “Vagina Warriors,” who, says Ensler, are people who have “suffered or witnessed violence, grieved it, transformed it, and then done extraordinary work to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else in their community.” The award-winners are often, though not always, survivors of violence themselves.

Those honored at UConn are:

Joyce Wood-Martin, an administrative assistant in the Department of Marine Sciences at the Avery Point Campus. Wood-Martin’s daughter was assaulted when she was in high school. Since then, Martin has been active in statewide organizations, has testified in the legislature, and has dedicated hundreds of hours to support women who have been assaulted. She has served on the Victim/Survivor Advisory Board to the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services Inc. since its inception in 1994, and won an award for her work. She has also lobbied in Hartford for judicial system reform; uniform rape kits for emergency rooms; and training for police, nurses, and doctors.

Aurora Hannigan is an eighth-semester biology major. A performer in The Vagina Monologues both last and this year, she is the vice-president of the UConn Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She has also been an intern for Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, working on grassroots activism. In 2004, she organized the UConn delegation to the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., which brought more than 100 people from Storrs to the reproductive rights rally and march.

Law students David Irving and Lindsay Chung were enrolled in the Law School’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic last semester, where they represented a disabled woman from Latin America in her asylum claim before the Hartford Immigration Court. The woman, fleeing from her abusive spouse, sought asylum in the U.S., but was referred to immigration court and placed in deportation proceedings. Irving and Chung spent the semester learning about domestic violence and its effects on women, and developed an argument on their client’s behalf. The immigration judge recently indicated that he would grant their client’s claim, allowing her to remain in the U.S. and eventually become a permanent resident.