by Kathy Eide Casas
Local medical expert, Dr. Giatri Dave, featured weekly on the CBS Channel 47 Emmy Award-winning noon news segment, Ask the Doctor, has added another chapter to her growing journey of community health advocacy.
Dr. Dave recently joined a team of other professional women from across the globe; collectively embarking on an international educational campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence. These women have come together through their common belief that the epidemic of domestic violence is a preventable public health problem. Dr. Dave explained that domestic violence can lead to other mental and physical health issues as well, ”In addition to injury and death, intimate partner violence can lead to chronic physical and mental health problems – depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse and suicide.”
The inaugural awareness campaign began with the release of a calendar, benefiting international victims of domestic violence. Each month, the calendar showcases a high profile American career woman of Southeast Asian descent, in their traditional native dress. These ladies work across the nation, indeed the world, and have broken through the traditional restraints faced in many cultures. Each of these powerhouse role models have their own story to tell and all are communicating their message of domestic violence prevention.
Dr. Dave, a practicing radiation oncologist, has called Fresno home for over ten years. A native of Los Angeles, she graduated from the University of California at Irvine, the San Diego State University School of Public Health, and Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Dave went on to complete her internship at UCLA and her residency at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center. She currently practices at the Fresno Cancer Center.
Dave’s family, of Southeast Asian descent, is originally from India, where she still has family residing. At a young age, Giatri and her sister, Gargi, now a Bay area attorney, were passengers on the hijacked 1986 PanAm flight 73, where 120 passengers were injured and 20 others lost their lives. The girls were traveling from India to California, when five hijackers associated with a Libyan terrorist group, seized the Boeing 747 while still on the ground in Karachi, Pakistan. The sisters, in order to survive, pretended to be dead. As the five terrorists sprayed the darkened cabin with gunfire and grenades, someone opened an over-wing exit two rows ahead. Gargi and Giatri saw their chance to escape and climbed over the seat backs to the open portal. Gargi hesitated to make the two-story drop to freedom, but older sister Giatri pushed her through to safety. Though injured, Giatri was able to drag her sister under the plane and eventually to safety.
That same passion and commitment that then-13-year-old Giatri Dave displayed in the face of danger, still shines through this diminutive yet powerful physician today, when she talks about the violence that women throughout the world experience at the hands of their abusers. Dr. Dave stated, “Many women are afraid. There are cultural, financial and religious reasons why they cannot speak out about the various forms of violence they are experiencing. Domestic violence affects one in four American women. In Fresno County alone, there were 7000 documented cases, but the numbers are three to four times higher when the unreported cases are considered.” She is working hard to empower people to break their silence, as they see other women taking a stand against violence.
Dr. Dave’s passion for raising awareness of prevention of domestic violence was initially sparked by a series of gang rape attacks against women in India. Dave frequently visits family there, and emphasized, “Domestic violence knows no geographic boundaries. In India, the series of violent crimes sparked social outcry and demonstrations about the role of women in the world’s largest democracy. Thousands of miles from India, here in my local clinic, I see women who are also involved in unhealthy relationships. Some of the same cultural attitudes that are pervasive in India, are often times also seen in local communities as well. Domestic violence is a public health problem that cuts across all demographics – it could affect you, your sister, friend or mother.”
Dr. Dave emphasized that the message to raise awareness against domestic violence was created with hopes to transcend those geographical borders.
A recent visit with Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), who co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Victims Rights Caucus with Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), gave Dr. Dave even more encouragement that collective voices for victims’ rights are stronger and will be heard.
The Congressional Victims Rights Caucus has three main goals:
• To represent crime victims in the United States through the bipartisan introduction of legislation that reflects their interests, rights, and needs.
• To provide an ongoing forum for dialogue between Congress and national victim assistance organizations to enhance mutual education, legislative advocacy and initiatives that promote justice for all, including crime victims.
• To seek opportunities for public education initiatives to help the nation understand the impact of crime on victims, and to encourage their involvement in crime prevention, victim assistance, and community safety.
Dave said, “It’s important for people to be educated on the available resources. After a first-time incident, victims that work with a domestic violence advocate have a much lower likelihood of being abused again.” She continued, “Prevention of violence has focused on the first-time perpetration but ideally addresses all levels that influence intimate partner violence – individual, relationship and community – by promoting healthy, respectful and nonviolent relationships.”
Dr. Dave can be seen every Tuesday on CBS Channel 47 at noon. Viewers can send in their health questions to NewsDesk@cbs47.tv. She intends to continue her advocacy, to make health issues simpler for people to understand, so they can be better advocates for themselves and their loved ones.
Find Dr. Dave at: www.facebook.com/Dr.GiatriDave
Find help or information at any of the following:
• National Domestic Violence Hotline?(800) 799-SAFE (7233)
• Rape Counseling Service & Hotline?(559) 222-RAPE or?(559) 497-2900
• Elder Abuse Hotline?(800) 475-6068
• Marjaree Mason 24-hour Hotline?(800) 640-0333 or?(559) 233-HELP (4357)
• Carmen Meza Center in Kerman?(559) 659-0232 ?Hotline: (559) 222-7273
• Coalinga Family Crisis Network?(559) 934-1950
• Babies First – Mom & Kids Hotline?Fresno County?(800) 640-0333
Find the Victims Rights Caucus at:
Rep. Ted Poe
Phone: (202) 225- 6565
Staff contact: Blair Bjellos
Rep. Jim Costa
Phone: (559) 495-1620
Staff contact: Andy Flick