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TN resident helps fight child abuse

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A Throggs Neck resident has demonstrated that one person can affect the lives of many.

Awilda Cordero, an active member of her community and throughout the Bronx for a number of years, founded a non-profit organization, Emergency Rights.

Emergency Rights serves people in need, such as those who have suffered from child abuse or domestic violence, or those who have been fire and crime victims.

Through the organization, Cordero was contacted by family members of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown, a child brutally abused by her stepfather, Caesar Rodriguez, and mother, Nixzaliz Santiago. Brown was found dead in her Brooklyn home by police on January 6, 2006.

Three years ago Cordero began to gain support to amend a penal law in relation to the crime of aggravated murder of a child. The bill called for an increase in the available sentence to life imprisonment without possibility of parole for an adult who inflicts torture on a child, intentionally causing a child’s death.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, of Brooklyn sponsored the bill, which was passed by the Assembly in June. According to Cordero, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. sponsored the bill and it passed the Senate in September.

“Assemblyman Lentol put the bill together and it passed, but he said I needed a Senator to pick it up, so I asked Senator Diaz and he did it and that passed too,” said Cordero. “Assemblywo­man Naomi River was helpful the whole time too, she helped me get things organized. Governor David Paterson signed it on October 9.”

Since beginning her mission, Cordero collected over 7,000 signatures from throughout New York City, spending endless hours banging on doors, making phone calls, and contacting anyone she thought could help.

“I hate to see anyone abusing a child. I am a mother and a grandmother and I would never put a hand on any children,” said Cordero. “A child doesn’t have a voice to say ‘leave me alone,’ a child doesn’t know their rights or to go for help. By letting people know this law is out there, maybe they will think twice before touching a child.”

Cordero still hopes to continue pushing to have it become a federal law and has already begun the process of creating information packets and signature sheets to send to contacts around the country.

“I believe when we want something in life, no matter how big or small, we can get it done if we are committed,” said Cordero. “I promised Nixzmary when I buried her that there would be a law under her name and I’m so happy we got it done.”

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