Global Leadership Awards SEVEN
“Pomogitye Mnye,” the soft-spoken woman whispered into the phone. “Help me.”
On the other end of the line, Marina Pisklakova-Parker listened. The woman told a familiar story.
Marina felt the fear in the caller’s voice — the slight shiver in the words spoken, the sense of apprehension accompanying each statement, and the inevitable pauses that came when the caller could no longer speak through her tears. Marina used those pauses to reassure the young mother, “I am here. I will help you. I am listening.”
Marina not only listened, she pioneered. The hotline she established in 1993 was the only avenue for victims of domestic violence in Russia, where the economic reforms that flowed from the end of the Soviet era failed to alter the troubling dynamic of family violence that wrought havoc on so many Russian households.
No shelters existed. No laws prohibited abuse. No advocacy campaigns counseled victims or educated perpetrators. There was silence — except at Center ANNA, where the phone rang over and over, alerting Marina to callers’ desperation and ultimately compelling her to break the once deafening silence.
When she began, Marina was alone and isolated. Today, she is no longer alone, and she no longer faces the daunting challenge of overcoming the public and private obstacles of being a human rights defender in solitude. Instead, she is inspiring a network of rising voices to share her mantel of leadership and to ensure that the campaign against domestic violence survives and succeeds well into the future.