‘The world is watching…they want to know, ‘Where is the justice?” challenges Former President of Chile, now Under Secretary General and Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, at the opening session at the CSW. She continued to say that it was an understatement to say that this sessions focus on violence against women and girls was timely and that the world cannot afford the cost of violence against women. She’s not wrong. In a time of recession I’m sure we can all think of how to use the £34 billion (ref Sylvia Walby research) spent annually in the UK of dealing with violence against women. ‘This is an historical moment’ she continued, as this session is ‘the largest international meeting ever on ending violence against women.’ We have a lot to live up to.
‘Women’s bodies are a battle ground.’.Michelle Bachelet said and in the NGO briefing last Sunday stated that ‘7 out of 10 women report that they have suffered physical and or sexual violence.’
Think about that
7 out of 10 women reported they had suffered physical and or sexual violence.
I was taken aback to hear that statistic and I work in the sector. It makes me wonder how did we let the situation get so bad? Did I get distracted by life that my culture normalised violence against women? Do I want to excuse this statistic? Justify it? Ignore it? Want to defend my position because I feel challenged? Do I accept it? Does it make me angry? Or do I bat it away with a comment into the long grass so I don’t have to face the reality of what that statistic means for me, my culture, my church, my family, my work, my life?
It’s really hard to be faced with a reality we would rather not be faced with. It’s even harder to take it in, acknowledge the reality of the pain and hurt of so many of our sisters who are and have suffered, and allow that reality to transform and change us.
No-one likes being told what to do. So what do you suggest we do with that statistic noting that each one represents an individual? What do we do with that information in our churches? What does it mean for our churches? How do we want to respond? Or perhaps a little closer to home, how do I want to respond?
Will we follow the inspirational leadership of Michelle Bachelet and allow the information to move us into action?