In the run-up to the launch of Mothers’ Union’s participation in the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender- Based Violence (GBV) campaign on 25th November, The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Right Rev. Justin Welby, said, “One of the most important things that churches and communities of faith can do is to stand up and speak out for justice and dignity for all.”
He continued, “Gender-based violence has blighted societies from the earliest times, and continues to be one of the greatest injustices in the world today. No society is immune to it, and all too often, women and girls, against whom acts of violence or abuse have been committed, are unable to speak out because of stigma placed on them.”
This year’s campaign focuses on combatting the stigma surrounding GBV, by breaking the power of silence, lifting the shame placed on survivors and shifting the blame for the abuse from victim to perpetrator.
Stigma around GBV can take many forms and be multifaceted. In some areas, women who have been raped as part of violent conflict or war are shunned by their families and husbands. Some women and girls who have been victims of human trafficking, particularly for sexual exploitation, are then rejected by their families and communities and not allowed to return home, even if they do manage to escape their captors.
As part of the campaign, Mothers’ Union is inviting people around the world to join together in a Global Moment to raise awareness of GBV.
This symbolic act, which can take place anywhere, at any time of the day on 26th November or at any point during the 16 Days, calls people to: link hands with one another to represent unity in ending GBV; reach out hands to represent connection with those around the world affected by, or campaigning against GBV and lift hands up as a sign of prayer for an end to GBV.
Mothers’ Union’s CEO, Bev Jullien said, “The 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence campaign is one our most important campaigns of the year. Violence against women and girls does not respect borders. Members in all of our 83 countries around the world engage in various ways from marching on the streets, to holding prayer vigils, donating to women’s refuges or writing to politicians calling for them to take action to combat GBV.”
At least one in three women globally will experience some form of gender based violence at some point in herlifetime. Globally, women between the ages of 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer malaria, traffic accidents or war combined. In England and Wales seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner.
“Mothers’ Union has one of the widest and most effective reaches across communities, seeking to share the gospel of reconciliation and transform the world in which we live. Together in the power of the Spirit, we can break the power of silence,” said Welby.
Mothers’ Union is encouraging everyone taking part in the Global Moment to share on social media on 26th November (or after) to gain momentum, using either the hashtag #letstalkaboutit #mu16days, #endstigma or #endgbv, using the Mothers’ Union handle @mothersunion (Twitter)
Mothers’ Union has produced a wealth of resources, including prayers and a video, to help people engage. To find out more go to http://www.mothersunion.org/16-days. Watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsPiB_G6poQ