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It’s time to end domestic violence against women, says Mothers’ Union

03 December 2021

Bishops support global day of action, which targets the one-in-three statistic

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York (front, centre) and bishops hold signs in support of the Mothers’ Union campaign #nomore1in3

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York (front, centre) and bishops hold signs in support of the Mothers’ Union campaign #nomore1in3

DOMESTIC violence and abuse are common to all communities, including church communities, and only worldwide awareness of this can lead to action to protect vulnerable people, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has said.

The Bishop was expressing her support this week for a fresh campaign from the Mothers’ Union to end abuse and violence against women. The campaign is called #nomore1in3 — because one in three women worldwide has experienced or will experience domestic and sexual violence in their lifetime.

That is around 736 million women in every culture and country, the World Health Organization reported earlier this year — in a situation exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdowns, when people with violent and abusive partners were more vulnerable in isolation with them (News, 8 May).

The #nomore1in3 campaign was created as part of the Mothers’ Union’s Global Day of Action, on Saturday — its annual response to the call for 16 days of global activism against gender-based violence: a UN women’s initiative, first launched in 1991.

Bishop Treweek said: “So often abuse is hidden and so it’s fantastic that Mothers’ Union is bringing this to light by highlighting the dreadful statistic, that one in three women suffer abuse and violence.

“Despite our best efforts, I, along with Mothers’ Union, was very disappointed by one of the outcomes of the Domestic Abuse Bill, now Act, because we didn’t manage to achieve what we wanted in relation to migrant women. So, despite progress, more must be done, and that will only happen if people are aware of statistics like this.

“Domestic abuse happens in homes and communities, including members of church communities, and people are often not aware. That is why this campaign is so important.”

In April, the Commons rejected her amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill — now Act — to allow a migrant victim of domestic abuse to apply for temporary leave to remain in the UK. It had been tabled and passed at Report Stage in the House of Lords in March (News, 19 March).

The chief executive of the Mothers’ Union, Bev Jullien, said that members would be meeting in venues, including cathedrals and churches, across Britain and Ireland to call for action. “Lockdown and the recent media coverage around the shocking deaths of Sarah Everard [News, 19 March], Sabina Nessa, Bibaa Henry, and Nicole Smallman [News, 19 June 2020], only serve to confirm why more must be done on this issue now,” she said.

Practical support includes providing essential items for refugees, training and support workshops on gender-based issues in schools and prisons, and helping the families of survivors to rebuild family bonds through “Away from it all” breaks. “We are always looking for more people to join our movement and won’t rest until the abuse of and violence against women is eliminated,” Mrs Jullien said.

The Archbishop of York said that the Church should support the campaign. “Mothers’ Union is not just doing a great job in raising awareness of violence against women, but also confronting it,” he said. “The whole Church needs to be involved in this campaign, and men and boys must step up and recognise the change that is needed to truly combat this issue.”

 

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