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Nikita Chawla should have turned 24 this weekend.

This weekend it is Nikita Chawla’s birthday.

The young woman from Melbourne would have been 24 on Sunday.

Ordinarily, this is a day when Nikita and her family would come together, feast and give gifts.

But they will not celebrate this year.

Instead they will unite in her memory.

Nikita Chawla was allegedly murdered by her partner in January this year.

nikita chawla
Nikita Chawla. Image: Supplied.

“Niki’s life was tragically taken on Friday January 9, 2015 in a senseless act of domestic violence. Niki was 23,” her brother Tarang wrote in her obituary. “She had her whole life ahead of her. The loss of Nikita has left an inconceivable void in the lives of her family and friends. Niki leaves behind a distraught and heartbroken mum, dad and brother.”

Because of his sister’s death, Tarang has become a passionate anti-violence against women campaigner. He has even become an ambassador for the White Ribbon organisation.

Tarang lives his life by a strongly held belief: the violence that killed his sister was not her fault.

“Men’s violence isn’t a women’s problem. It’s a man’s problem,” Tarang wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

“When we ask male perpetrators about their actions, we give them far too much clemency. When a man says that he acted violently because his partner ‘angered him’, ‘upset him’, or ‘wanted to leave him’, we’re effectively allowing him to absolve himself of the responsibility of his own actions.”

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Nikita Chawla.

Recently, on the website Our Watch, Tarang pointed out that an alcohol-fuelled king hit became widely known by media, politicians and the public as a “coward’s punch” — a term, he believes, which lead to a swift and hardline response to alcohol-fuelled violence in Australian cities.

He wonders if giving re-phrasing ‘domestic violence’ would prompt governments to take greater action.

It is with this in mind, anti-domestic violence campaigners like Rosie Batty often tout the phrase “family terrorism.”

“Let’s put [domestic violence] in its context: this is terrorism in Australia,” Batty recently told Fairfax Media.

“If we look at the money that we spend in terrorism overseas, for the slight risk that it poses to our society, it is disproportionate completely.

“Let’s start talking about family terrorism. Maybe then, with that context and that kind of language we will start to get a real sense of urgency.”

Nikita Chawla.

Tarang is also astounded by the limited resources allocated to tackling domestic violence, but he hopes the discussion will step away from money, and toward the real cost of this epidemic: human lives.

“The cost of men’s violence is often framed in dollar terms to the system. The true cost is that violence robs victims and their families of their dignity, their humanity, and in the most abhorrent cases, their life,” Tarang told Mamamia.

“This should be our incentive for action — not how much it costs the system.”

On Nikita’s first birthday since her passing, her family is holding a vigil at Queensbridge Square in Melbourne’s Southbank.

The event brings together speakers from anti-violence organisations and aims to show the human cost of men’s violence. Tarang is a big believer that women, including his sister, shouldn’t be seen only as statistics in the news.

Justice For Nikita is giving victims of men’s violence a voice. The ‘Light In Our Lives’ vigil is one way we can honour victims of violence and remember their strength, courage and bravery,” he said. “It is crucial to share their stories and not allow women’s and children’s lives to become statistics.”

According to Tarang, Nikita worked actively within the community and he considers it vital that such work is part of her legacy.

“We must do all we can to change attitudes that lead to men’s violence against women, and protect the women and children who are most vulnerable and at risk.”

Tarang and his family invite all members of the public to attend the ‘Light In Our Lives‘ vigil at Queensbridge Square, Southbank, on Sunday, June 21 at 6.15pm.

Related content:

A brave mother is calling for reform to domestic violence laws.

“Domestic violence occurs in every class, culture and community.”

The Age article was just domestic violence victim blaming.

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