Communiqué: outcomes of an international workshop for strengthening the global faith movement for gender justice.
To access the full document, please click here
Pledging to Be Part of the Solution
On 15 July 2015, faith leaders from across the UK gathered at the House of Lords to speak out against domestic abuse. It was the first time that different faith leaders have stood together to acknowledge the problem of domestic abuse within their own faith communities, and to pledge to do something about it.
The first step: a nationwide Faith Leaders’ Declaration on Domestic Abuse endorsed by dozens of prominent UK faith leaders. Above all, the Declaration affirms that domestic abuse is irreconcilable with the teachings of our faiths. It commits faith leaders to addressing domestic abuse and promoting positive action. It also provides a practical definition for identifying domestic abuse in all its forms.
Hosted by Lord McColl of Dulwich and organised by Restored and FaithAction, the July 15th interfaith reception was an incredible opportunity for faith leaders to recognise our unique opportunities for challenging harmful beliefs and seeking an end to domestic abuse in our faith communities. The event featured speeches from Baroness Scotland (former Attorney General), Shahin Ashraf (Muslim Women’s Network UK), and Alastair Redfern (Bishop of Derby). Following the reception, we hope that faith leaders will endorse, circulate, and use the Declaration within their own faith communities.
For the next step of this initiative, Restored is looking for personal stories about how different people and faiths are working to end domestic abuse in the UK. On the 25th of November, we plan to publish these stories and show how effective a faith-based response can be in ending domestic abuse.
If you have any stories on how faith groups are working to end domestic abuse in your community, please send them to email@example.com.
‘Why is this declaration important? Because in all faiths in Britain right now, domestic abuse is being committed unseen and unreported. What this declaration says to perpetrators of domestic violence is that we, as faith leaders, will not tolerate it, nor remain silent about it, but, recognising the unique and positive opportunities we have within our faith communities, will challenge abusive patterns of behaviour, whether physical, sexual, psychological or spiritual, that have become too common within our faiths and wider society.’
– Peter Grant, co-director of Restored
‘There are a number of misconceptions regarding domestic abuse and religion in our society. It is the duty of religious teachers to provide clarity and guidance on this issue as well as repel any incorrect beliefs and perceptions people may have about this growing problem.’
– Abdullah Hasan, Chief Imam at Holborn Mosque
‘Domestic abuse affects men and women of all faiths and backgrounds, and its impact can be felt across the generations. An estimated 1.4m women and 700,000 men were victims of abuse last year according to the ONS. There is much that faith institutions can do to challenge such behaviour and break that cycle of abuse. This declaration is a good first step in acknowledging that the problem exists and that all people of faith have an active role to play in changing society for the better.’
– Jasvir Singh, Chair of City Sikhs
‘Violence against women is a human problem, not a specifically religious one. But faith leaders have the potential to be part of the problem or part of the solution. In signing this charter we are pledging to be part of the solution.’
– Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
Read the Restored press release: link
Read the inter faith declaration on ending sexual violence in conflict: On February 9th and 10th with the leadership of Rt. MP. William Hague and Ms. Angelina Jolie-Pitt joined by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay in collaboration with the WWSO, supported by FCO-UK faith leaders from around the world came together in London to tackle sexual violence in conflict and the role of faith leaders and communities in ending SV globally.
Read more: Inter Faith Event 2015
The ‘We Will Speak Out’ International Coalition has produced our first resource specific to the 16 days of activism against gender based violence.
The 16 Days Campaign is an annual international campaign to raise awareness, speak out and act to end gender based violence. Running between 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and 10 December (Human Rights Day).
Our resource for prayer, reflection and action during the 16 days is available for use by individuals, churches and communities.
For more downloadable resources for use during the 16 Days of activism visit our Resources page.
The WWSO coalition hosted events during the 2nd MenEngage Symposium in New Delhi in November. Sharing our experiences of engaging men and boys within the church to promote positive and transformed masculinities and contribute to an end of sexual violence.
For more information on the symposium, go here.
The Declaration of the event is available here.
Monday 10th November 2014
India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India
Part of the 2nd MenEngage global symposium 2014
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has launched a GBV Responders Website (July 2014).
This website is a platform to host resources on GBV service provision for practitioners and advocates – everything from guidelines and how-to manuals to research articles, case studies and policy briefs.
To visit the website, go here.
Coalition member, Tearfund organised a workshop in Bangui, Central African Republic in May 2014 bringing together faith leaders, non-government organisations and UN agencies. The workshop sought to bring together key stakeholders to discuss how faith organistions to speak out and act against sexual violence.
Sign the online pledge here.
WE WILL SPEAK OUT PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release Wednesday 11 June 2014
FAITH LEADERS FIRST PORT OF CALL FOR RAPE SURVIVORS
In the chaos of war, people of faith are often the only ones left to protect vulnerable people, according to survivors of sexual violence, lawyers, politicians and faith leaders.
Leaders from different faiths shared stories at the Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict summit today, at a debate chaired by UK Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP. The event was hosted by the We will Speak Out coalition, which is a faith based group of organisations in more than 25 countries working to end sexual violence globally.
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy actor Angelina Jolie and the UK’s Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague MP visited the event to thank faith leaders for their work to help people who have survived sexual violence and to change the attitudes and behaviours that cause it.
Reverend Nicolas Guerokoyame-Gbangou, President of the Evangelical Alliance in the Central African Republic, spoke of the war that has ravaged his country for the last two years:
‘In our country, the legal system has collapsed and the men have either left or been killed. Life is very dangerous for women and girls and many of them have been raped by soldiers. Faith leaders are the only ones left, and we must protect those who need it.
‘Women and girls who have been raped feel as though they have lost an important part of themselves. We must not abandon them.’
Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, commended the UK Government through a filmed message in which he recounted recent visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. He spoke of a culture of brutality in eastern DRC, propagated by rebel groups and exacerbated by corruption in extractive industry operations, and claimed that ‘the churches are the main bulwark against this brutalisation’.
Speaking of churches running projects funded by Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, part of the We Will Speak Out coalition, he said: ‘They love the women who come to them for help. They show them love and human dignity. That is extraordinary in itself.’
He described specially trained clergy who help women who have survived sexual violence to rebuild their lives:
‘They enable them to re-enter society, they counsel them, they show them that they are of unique importance as people, not merely being objects of other people’s lust, rage and disempowerment.’
Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu, a congregational rabbi in London, shared her passion for religious leaders to confront the realities of sexual violence:
‘It is our job as religious leaders to speak out the unspeakable. Where is God when these things happen?
‘Rape is a spiritual attack on the dignity and integrity of a person who is made in the image of God, and we must teach responsibly in order to avoid blaming the person who has been raped.’
The We Will Speak Out event heard from representatives around the world, from current conflicts and post-conflict states.
The panellists were: – Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women (chair) – Hon Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister for Gender and Development of the Republic of Liberia – Shahin Ashraf, Muslim chaplain, University of Birmingham – Reverend Nicolas Guerokoyame-Gbangou, President of the Evangelical Alliance in the Central Africa – Archbishop Dr Onesphore Rwaje, Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda – Miriam Maluwa, Chief, Office of Security and Humanitarian Affairs, UNAIDS – Shulamit Ambalu, congregational Rabbi in London – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Describing the role of faith communities as first responders, helping survivors to get to hospital and through the criminal justice processes as well as offering emotional and practical support, panellists called for faith leaders to teach dignity and equality for women and men.
Shahin Ashraf, Muslim chaplain at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘Every faith tradition speaks of the dignity and rights of every human being, yet too often women and girls suffer. Our faith leaders must take their responsibility seriously and engage with these issues, particularly helping men and boys to relate to women. We must also find ways to support those who have been former combatants.’
Miriam Maluwa, Chief, Office of Security and Humanitarian Affairs, UNAIDS, commended the vital role of faith in ending sexual violence, saying: ‘For faith based responses to be more effective, advocacy needs to be much bolder, breaking the wall of silence. Faith leaders should talk more about gender disparities.’ This week’s Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict summit brings together delegates from 100 countries to call for tough and effective judicial systems that will punish and deter those authorising rape as a weapon of war. Humanitarian agencies are also calling for aid budgets to recognise the prevalence of sexual violence and to allocate funding to serve survivors and help prevent assault.
The role of faith communities has been widely recognised at the summit, with many speakers referencing their personal faith or the contribution that faith leaders have made.
Archbishop of Rwanda, Reverend Dr Onesphore Rwaje, said:
‘We must create a safe space for a woman who has been raped to feel free to talk about her experience and receive help.
‘And we must speak prophetically to warn people of the consequences of ignoring sexual violence. Someone once described the church as a sleeping giant. Let us get up, and speak out.’
For further information and interview requests please call Katie Harrison on (+44) 7949 181414or Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s filmed message is at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5338/archbishops-message-to-global-summit-to-end-sexual-violence-in-war
We will Speak Out is a faith based group of organisations working to end sexual violence globally. We have 17 members working in more than 25 countries. We Will Speak Out’s primary vision over the next three years is to see:
· Transformed, just and reconciled communities where the lives of men and women, girls and boys are no longer shattered by gender based violence.
· With faith communities and leaders – male and female – proactively working with survivors and others, to address effectively the causes and consequences of sexual violence, including within the church and places of worship.
Image credit and copyright: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund
On Wednesday 11th June (12-1330), the coalition is co-hosting the event with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. (Discussion room 4)
The event is chaired by Baroness Warsi and speakers on the Panel include:
- Hon. Julia Duncan-Cassell is the Minister of Gender and Development of the Republic of Liberia.
- Shahin Ashraf is the current muslim chaplain at the University of Birmingham.
- Reverend Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou is the president of the Evangelical Alliance in the Central African Republic.
- Archbishop Rwaje is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.
- Miriam Maluwa works for UNAIDS as their Law and Human Rights Advisor
- Shulamit Ambalu is a congregational Rabbi in London and a lecturer in Rabbinic Literature.
On Thursday 12th June (10-1130), the coalition is hosting a panel which will speak to the holistic role of faith leaders and communities in eastern DRC. (Discussion Room 4)
The speakers on the Panel include:
- Rev. Henri Isingoma, Anglican Archbishop of DR Congo
- Dr. Jo Lusi, Founder of HEAL Africa, Goma
- Thérèse Mema Mapenzi, Listening Rooms in Bukavu
- Louise Bashige, Ushingi Programme Coordinator, Eastern DRC
Both events are open to the general public and will have opportunities for members of the general public to present questions to the general public.
For directions to the Excel Centre please visit the Excel website here.
Coalition member, Tearfund latest report based on a research study, Men, Faith and Masculinities will be launched during the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict during 10-13th June.
Download the Transforming masculinities report here.
The baseline study was carried out in partnership with the Anglican Church in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo between August 2013 and February 2014.
View more research reports from Tearfund at tilz.tearfund.org/sexualviolence