Today, Tuesday 25 November, is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence starts today across the world, ending on Human Rights Day on 19 December. While gender-based violence can affect both men and women, the focus of the sixteen days is on ending violence directed at women.
Violence against women and girls is a reality in all societies – and in our churches. We need to break the silence that surrounds this reality, challenge attitudes that help to perpetuate it, and work as women and men of faith to prevent and end violence against women and girls and all gender-based violence.
How can you get involved?
Men can wear a white ribbon as a sign of their commitment not to commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women. The World Council of Churches is reviving ‘Thursdays in Black’, a campaign where women and men are encouraged to wear black as a peaceful protest against rape and violence.
There are also a whole host of resources for church action available, from the Mothers Union, Restored and the Anglican Communion office.
Bishop William from our Zambia link is featured in the video clip on the Anglican Communion website, along with other bishops from around the Anglican Communion.
Supporting victims of domestic abuse is something we can do locally. It’s not always straightforward, but training can help you recognise that it’s happening and then enable you signpost people to professional support. Somerset Survivors provide support to victims, and also offer excellent free training.
BANES also has a range of services on offer to both victims and those working with them.
The national church report on domestic abuse is also worth a read, containing excellent information; in particular the guidelines on pages 10-13.
The national Domestic Violence Helpline is on 0808 2000247.
More resources for the 16 days campaign are available via Facebook.
Diocesan Social Justice Advisor David Maggs says: “There is some very good work happening locally, and the churches can certainly play their part. Domestic abuse can happen in our own communities as well as with people we have pastoral contact with.
Christmas and New Year and the lead up to it can be a very stressful time for all of us, but it’s particularly so for victims of domestic abuse. Along with certain sporting events, the festive period sees an annual spike in violence. The 16 days campaign urges us not to forget such victims.”