Five things churches can do to eliminate violence against women and girls
This Saturday, November 25, the UN Global 16 Days Activism campaign starts against gender-based violence. Is your church getting involved?
Many of us know the dire statistics that one in three women in the world experience violence, and many of us know people affected by gender-based violence in our network of friends, families, workplaces and communities. We grieve the harm caused by this scourge of violence.
The group disproportionately affected by violence are women, with the violence usually from a current or former partner. Whilst violence is a problem for women, the solution lies with our men. We need men to join the fight against gender-based violence.
We need to do more than grieve and condemn violence against women.
The Anglican Church of Australia, which undertook research into violence affecting members of its churches, has made Ten Commitments to prevent and respond to domestic and family violence.
We need to do more than grieve and condemn violence against women. We know there is a problem; it is time to change our ways as a society. Until we can normalise attitudes of respect and equality and back them up with our behaviour, we will not see a significant reduction in violence.
Causes of violence are complex; however, research shows a strong and consistent association between gender inequality and violence against women. It creates the conditions for an abuse of power. It’s up to all of us to play our part in preventing violence, including our churches. So don’t just think and pray, but engage and take action. Blessed are the men and women who are shocked and do something and speak up (Judges 19:30).”
Here are five things that people in our churches can do to help us all focus on this issue and its solutions:
1. Pray in your church each Sunday of the campaign: 25 November, 3 December and 10 December. You can write your own prayers or use those provided in posts 2, 9 and 16 and on our new Australian Anglican Website: www.tencommitments.org.au
2. Like and share the social media posts which will be posted on Facebook and Instagram. “Ten Commitments to Prevent Violence.” Download the campaign resources at www.tencommitments.org.au, including PowerPoint slides and tiles, in case you want to create posts on your social media pages or website.
3. Be better informed about how to prevent the problem of domestic and family violence. A peak government body, Our Watch, publishes information on its website: www.ourwatch.com.au
4. Be there for your friends who may be affected. Griffith University has published a helpful app called “Be There”. Download it and use it to learn more and know how to help others.
5. Be the change we need. The world needs more men like Jesus. Against a Roman culture that gave few rights to women and even legalised femicide, Jesus counted women as his friends and disciples, decried the double standard applied to men and women in society and condemned the men who mistreated their wives. Jesus valued women’s work, talents, thoughts, prayers, testimony, witness and support. He honoured them. The world needs more men like Jesus. When we likewise value women in our society and churches, treating them equally, violence will become part of our history rather than of our future.
Tracy Lauersen is the Anglican Church of Australia’s National Program Manager for Families and Culture.