A crowd walks behind the Walk Against Family Violence banner

Tarang Chawla calls to end family violence

Nikita and Tarang Chawla

Tarang Chawla’s life changed forever the moment he discovered his sister’s life had ended.

Nikita Chawla was just 23 years old when her husband murdered her in a jealous rage on 9 January 2015.

Just months later the Chawla family was giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Their submission described Nikita as “a beautiful, kind-hearted, gentle, energetic and ambitious young woman”. 

Their submission talked about Niki’s life, loves and dreams. It detailed her love of Bollywood dance and her choreography work that was building into a promising career.

The report also talked about the loss they had suffered and the hole left in their lives.

Tarang is adamant that by remembering the victims and honouring their stories we can change attitudes to family violence. 

A vocal advocate for gender equality and an anti-violence campaigner, Tarang has spent the past eight years shining a light on these issues. 

“To me it seems wrong that we only think about these women because of how they died. Something that was done to them…their story is their life and how they chose to live it, the fact they were loved and they had people that they loved,” he said.

When the Chawla family first came to Australia they lived just outside of Greater Dandenong.

Tarang has fond memories of childhood days spent with his sister at Dandenong Plaza, and he wants to see more support for people suffering family violence in communities like Greater Dandenong.

“It comes down to community attitudes…us taking this issue as one that isn’t just something to be discussed in the home or swept under the rug. We need to actively talk about it in the community and we need to have leaders in the community speaking up about it,” Tarang said.

“I think things have definitely changed since the royal commission (in 2015)…we’re starting to have those conversations that will lead to us hopefully eradicating violence against women and girls.”

He said the pandemic lockdowns over the past two years had shone a spotlight on how home wasn’t a safe space for a lot of people particularly women and children, but progress would take time.

“We have to acknowledge that change will be slow and that this will take a generation or more, but in the meantime we have to do the work to progress gender equality, to progress safer outcomes for victim survivors, because if we’re not actually doing that work and having those conversations then we’re not going to actually change those statistics.

“My hope is that by actually honouring the people that we’ve lost we’ll do the work that’s necessary so that other people don’t go through losing loved ones and women and children in particular don’t have their lives taken from them.”

Tarang said both men and women from all walks of life had a role to play in eliminating gendered violence. He said the human experience of loss and grief was the same across all cultures, and encouraged communities to come together to support one another.

“You don’t have to be an advocate that speaks out on social media or in the public eye, you can be a leader in your community whether you volunteer at a sporting club or community group, or the local library, whatever it is there are ways to be involved as part of the greater good.”

Tarang is looking forward to taking part in Greater Dandenong’s Walk Against Family Violence on Tuesday 22 November