“I stand with Nan-Hui because our women and children should be protected and supported at all costs.” These are just some of the words of empowerment that Brown Asian Sisters Empowered collected from Brown community members during its four-day #DearNanHui letter-writing campaign.
Other tributes included “I stand with Nan-Hui because domestic violence is never okay” and “I stand with Nan-Hui because I’m tired of victim blaming.”
Spending the first day in J. Walter Wilson and migrating to the Blue Room for the remainder of the campaign, the group advocated the rights of Nan-Hui Jo, a victim of domestic violence, and called attention to the social injustice surrounding her case.
BASE called upon Brown community members to write letters of support to Nan-Hui to display campus solidarity with her plight. The group will compile pictures of community members holding up these messages in both English and Korean on whiteboards and send them to Nan-Hui.
Nan-Hui, a single mother, fled from the United States to Korea with her 6-year-old daughter Vitz Da in 2009 to escape physical and emotional abuse by her previous partner. But when she returned to the United States in July 2014, she was immediately arrested and has since been imprisoned and separated from her daughter.
Nan-Hui now faces charges of child abduction and the possibility of deportation.
According to the American Bar Association, approximately 1.3 million women and approximately 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the United States each year. Under international legal agreements, when parents take their children across international borders, the parents become vulnerable to charges of abduction.
“The best form to present our support is through letter-writing, so that she can feel that there are actually a lot of supporters rooting for her,” said Juhee Kwon ’14, an alum who helped organize the campaign.
The campaign is especially relevant to Brown’s campus, where many students are first- or second-generation immigrants, said Jea Sim ’17, BASE president and one of the event’s organizers.
“A lot of people at Brown that I know are survivors of emotional and physical abuse — it happens within the campus,” Kwon added.
After spending seven months in jail, Nan-Hui will await her sentence for another 30 days, Kwon said. Though many people show their support for the single mother, the words of encouragement often do not reach her in jail, she added.
Besides the letter-writing campaign, other avenues exist for students to get involved, such as petitions, open letters, tweets and phone calls that support Nan-Hui’s cause, Sim said.
Soyoon Kim ’18, who wrote a message as part of the campaign, said she “wanted to stand in solidarity with someone who I sort of relate to ethnically and culturally as a Korean person.”
Kim said she wrote her message entirely in Korean, Nan-Hui’s native tongue, adding that she “felt like (Nan-Hui) would appreciate support from the community.”
Kwon said she hopes the campaign will evoke self-reflection on interactions within the Brown community.
“Each one of us has an inherent way of how we are violent towards other people,” she said. “It’ll be a really great opportunity for folks to think about the ways they enact violence on other people.”