These key messages were formed in consultation with the Mission and Public Affairs Committee of the Church Of England.
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) taking place from the 4th – 15th March 2013 has a priority theme of preventing and ending violence against women. The CSW is a key lobbying opportunity for the Church of England to ensure key messages are included in agreed conclusions coming out of the session for governments to heed and implement.
Key Messages from the Church of England:
1. Strategically include Churches and Christian Faith Based organisations, especially the role of the local church, in addressing gender based violence (GBV) & violence against women and girls (VAWG) so as to develop a holistic and multi stakeholder response.
Asks governments to ensure capacity development at the local level in raising awareness alongside supporting survivors of violence. Noting that the church is often the point in the community where survivors turn for help and sometimes the only community service available. The Archbishops (and many Bishops) in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi are already actively engaged in working through supporting survivors of violence linking with UNAIDS with support from the We Will Speak Out Coalition. Church and faith communities have also been working together in Bosnia on the whole range of sexual violence. The church leadership at a national level needs to be informed on proposed actions to share with the local Bishops and churches so they can be prepared to support survivors of violence.
Note: There is diversity within national and local churches on certain issues surrounding women and girls. The Church of England has zero tolerance for violence against women and girls.
Example Resources: Restored has produced a pack for churches on ending domestic abuse http://www.restoredrelationships.org/resources/info/51/
2. Challenging men’s attitudes and actions as well as including men in the response to work alongside women to end violence against women.
The Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) article 5 ‘requires State parties to modify social and cultural patterns of men and women to eliminate practices based on the idea of sex role stereotyping or the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes’
a. Asks the UN to reaffirm the implementation of CEDAW and call on governments to actively pursue implementation of article 5.
Calls upon governments, churches, faith organisations, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and other relevant actors in civil society to undertake the following actions:
b. Encourage education and awareness raising of impact of sex-role stereotyping on the family and wider community of restricting every individual, both men and women, from realising their full potential in life and work to stop this stereotyping
c. Support men to prevent VAWG and challenging other men to stop violence
d. Educate, resource and support local church leaders on gender equality and preventing VAWG
e. Restore the balance of women and men working together for gender equality. Men working alongside women.
f. Recognise that men are victims of violence and need support services
g. Promote positive models of masculinities that embrace equality and foster gender justice
Restored’s First Man Standing Campaign asks men to respect all women, challenge other men’s attitudes and actions and join in the cause of ending violence against women by signing up to the White ribbon pledge. http://www.restoredrelationships.org/firstmanstanding/pledge/
3. Commit to Capacity development for local community organisations e.g the church
The Church of England supports the UK Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI)that will further enable women to choose whether to go forward with prosecutions.
Asks governments to support local community organisations and churches to be trained and equipped to respond to stand alongside and support survivors of violence. Noting that there are community organisations and NGO’s already working in this area that could train locally or nationally given the resources to do this.
Noting that the Church of England is committed to developing a culture of openness in the churches to combat impunity, challenge stigma, shame and silence around the issues of violence against women and girls, recognising that violence against women and girls needs to be addressed within the church.
4. Address the wider issue of objectification and commodification of women & gender inequality
One of the underlying causes of sexual violence is treating women as sex objects and not as equals. The Church of England calls on governments to implement their commitments under CEDAW, the Convention for the Elimination for all forms of Discrimination Against Women, especially article 5 which ‘requires State parties to modify social and cultural patterns of men and women to eliminate practices based on the idea of sex role stereotyping or the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes’.
5. End impunity for perpetrators by enforcing legal frameworks and training the judiciary and national police
Asks governments to,
a. Create, where necessary, legislation outlawing all forms of VAWG in the private and public spheres including harmful traditional practices
b. Ensure survivors of violence have safe & fair access to justice
c. Ensure survivors are actively supported throughout the justice system
d. Ensure convictions are implemented in line with the law and judgement given
6. Ensure proper, safe provision for survivors of violence
Urges governments to,
a. Provide proper, safe, support and fund programmes to support survivors of violence
b. Provide accessible information in the appropriate language or accessible communication method on how survivor’s can access support and justice
c. Ensure that all involved in enforcement of the law are fully sensitised and trained in handling issues of VAWG
7. Ensure the education system mainstreams the equal value and worth of boys and girls throughout the schools system.
Requests governments to,
a. Educate boys and girls at an early age on the equality and dignity of all human beings as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
b. Conduct age appropriate classes on healthy relationships and conducting healthy relationships
b. Education on what violence is, how to identify it, make positive choices and get help when things go wrong.
8. Establish baseline data on levels of and types of violence against women and girls in order to identify the scale of the problem and fill the gaps in data where they currently exist.
Recognising the work already undertaken under the UN Secretary General’s database on violence against women and girls and the UNiTE campaign, calls on governments to record and publish data on violence against women and girls.
9. Encourage governments, private sector, faith organisations, civil society and other actors, to support the UK’s Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and end impunity for perpetrators within their own nation states.
Requests governments to
- Ensure that local and national churches and faith based organisations are included in the response.
- Implement CEDAW
- Implement a programme of cultural change to ensure the equal value of women, men, boys and girls.
10. Address the issue of shame based violence (so called Honour-Based Violence) on a national level.
Urges governments to
a. Provide appropriate services for survivors of shame based violence
b. Address the shame based practices that lead to violence against women and girls
c. Work with local and national faith based organisations in the response to shame based violence
What are your thoughts on these key messages?
Is there anything you would have liked to have seen included?
Do any of these questions resonate with your local church?