Jennifer Schlecht

In Memory of Jennifer Schlecht

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We in the VOICE community have been devastated by the murder of our dear friend Jennifer and her five-year-old daughter, Abaynesh. My thoughts are with all who loved her, especially those who supported her efforts to leave an abusive relationship.

Jennifer was a wonderful friend, mother and humanitarian. Her professional life was dedicated to empowering women and girls living through some of the world’s worst conflicts and crises.

I met Jenn in graduate school and always marveled at her focus and drive to better the lives of displaced women and girls. She touched people all over the world through her unforgettable smile, amazing courage and passion for making the world a better place.

It is my sense that she would want us to learn from the awful tragedy of her murder, to better protect those she felt called to serve. We cannot dismiss the violence she and her daughter endured as exceptional or rare—a moment of madness by a disturbed partner. Their deaths are part of a wider pattern of violence that too many women and girls face every day of their lives.

One out of every three women will experience violence in their lifetime, most likely at the hands of someone they know. Domestic violence is endemic – it is on our doorsteps; it is happening to friends and colleagues, and to women we will never meet. It is happening in our neighborhoods and in cities, towns and villages, across the world.

In our commitment to end this brutality against women and girls, we honor Jennifer and Abaynesh. Our work is for them: a celebration of the beauty and passion they brought to the world, and a mourning of the tremendous void their senseless departure leaves behind.

Ending violence requires all of us – women and girls, men and boys, activists, community leaders and governments – to change the culture and conditions that enables this to happen. It requires us to demand more of systems of protection, and to make institutions more reliable and easier to access for all who are at risk.

In love and solidarity, grounded in the new future we all must own for women and girls all over the world.

Mendy Marsh
Executive Director and Co-founder of VOICE

7 thoughts on “In Memory of Jennifer Schlecht”

  1. Please visit the Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) website https://centerforjudicialexcellence.org and read the most recent investigative article on this topic, “Fatal Court” by Gillian Friedman of the Utah Deseret. The CJE U.S. Divorce Child Homicide Data is featured in Gillian Friedman’s newly launched investigation, Fatal Court: The harm to children in the nation’s family courts has reached crisis proportions.’

    The Center for Judicial Excellence worked closely for months with the Deseret News to ensure the accuracy and validity of our child homicide data, which they reproduced on their website in conjunction with Gillian Friedman’s powerful Sept. 17, 2019 expose called Fatal Court. Her in-depth investigation has launched an ongoing Deseret News series on the dangers of the family court system.
    https://www.deseret.com/2019/9/17/20805882/fatal-family-court-parental-rights-custody-battles-child-deaths-harm-center-for-judicial-excellence

    Barry Goldstein’s article posted today on why it is so dangerous for women to leave abusers and how family courts get it wrong over and over again.
    https://stopabusecampaign.org/2019/11/11/do-women-have-a-right-to-leave-their-abusers/ fbclid=IwAR2Lm3DH_TgjhLl5ta3RtCRJ6eJD6sg5qSZPMJSgII0IXLgGsr4R-5NCFFU

    Barry is a DV and family court expert and the author of several books on the topic. This tragedy is not isolated and needs to be brought to the attention of family courts to change their practices to protect DV victims and their children BEFORE the violence escalates.

  2. From the staff of Brick by Brick in the Rakai District of Uganda we are heartbroken at this unspeakable loss of Jennifer and her daughter. In their memory we will te-double our efforts to end SGBV.

  3. No words. I am so heartbroken and full of rage Mendy. I am so grateful to you for writing this piece about Jen. We were at Columbia at the same time and our work paths have crossed so many times. Sending so much love to her family and loved ones.

  4. I had the honor of working next to her for a little while and become a mother at the same time she did. Not only did she touch thousands of lives lots of places in this world, she touched mine in one of the most complicated times of a woman’s life, being a young mom for the first time! I will never forget what she did for me and others and keep her in my thoughts forever, taking her work forward teaching my daughter!

  5. Oh dear, this so horrible, as she helps others, she was also experiencing violence.May her love and work done leave longer.RIP MUM.

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