TEARFUND PRESS RELEASE: ‘Faith leaders must play their part in ending violence against women’

‘Faith leaders must play their part in ending violence against women’, says Tearfund

25th November marks the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  As delegates gather in Westminster to attend the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (28-29th November), Tearfund’s Gender and Protection Unit Lead, Sabine Nkusi is calling for faith leaders around the world to take a stand and play their part in ending violence against women. 

‘Violence against women is wrong, but ending it is possible. I have seen through my work at Tearfund that faith and faith leaders have a part to play in ending violence against women,’ says Sabine. 

Sabine oversees Tearfund’s work to challenge harmful gender norms, working with faith leaders through the ‘Transforming Masculinities’ and ‘Journey to Healing’ approaches. She believes that faith leaders are uniquely placed to be able to create a culture of support and allyship with survivors. ‘Faith leaders can use their influence to speak out against gender based violence and to promote gender equality’, says Sabine.  

Esperande Bigirimana helped shape Tearfund’s Journey to Healing initiative in its early phase of development and is now an outspoken activist on behalf of the Phephisa Survivor’s Network. A survivor of sexual violence in conflict, Esperande agrees that the church has an essential role to play: 

‘Violence against women is a world crisis and it’s everybody’s responsibility to solve it. Men and boys as well as women and girls. We all need to work together. Faith leaders have a particular role to play in supporting and listening to survivors in their communities.’

‘The church as an institution is planted in the community. Victims and survivors are part of that community, so of course, they must be met with equality and compassion. The church can create a safe space where survivors are not met with judgement. 

‘Survivors need a chance to be heard and to heal. When you are violated, someone is taking power from you. You are left powerless. So, when you are supporting a survivor you need to use language that is positive and empowering. Faith leaders can ask questions like: ‘What do you need? How can I support you?’

Written by:  Esther Trewinnard 

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