fbpx
1800 998 122Contact

violence against women Tag

The horrific murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey last month by her former partner has renewed an important conversation about the prevalence of men’s violence against women in Australia.

The discussion has focused on the critical legal and funding issues that need to be addressed, but many experts have also argued that we must all work to change attitudes and behaviours of people long before they commit violence. As domestic violence researcher Dr Sue Heward-Belle argues:

As Australia is left reeling over the tragic deaths of yet another woman and her young children, we must reflect on our own attitudes towards domestic violence, and what we can do as a community to counter these types of behaviours.

We need to shift the society-wide attitudes that permit, justify or ignore the issue.

As the adage goes, “the standard you walk past, is the standard you accept”.

How can we raise the standard?

We need to treat violence against women as the crisis it is.

On average in Australia, one woman a week and one man a month is killed by a current or former partner. One in six (1.6 million) women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since age 15.

Australian police currently deal with 5,000 domestic violence matters on average every week – one every two minutes. ABC News have created an interactive counter to highlight the prevalence of the violence.

The problem also affects our wider Asia-Pacific region, where rates of violence against women and girls are far higher than the global average.

What can we do to draw attention to the crisis?

Follow the lead of women’s movements.

On April 30, 1977 a group of 14 Argentine mothers gathered in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires to demand answers about their children “disappeared” by Argentina’s brutal military dictatorship (1976 – 1983). Their action defied the regime’s law against mass assembly, but despite the risk to their lives the women would gather every Thursday to demand answers and seek justice.

As the number of disappeared grew, the movement grew, and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo gained international attention to the ongoing human rights violations. The women were deemed as “subversives” and five of the leaders were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the regime. But the women persisted.

Their movement was a catalyst that built consensus against the dictatorship so broad that its days became numbered. The women’s fight for justice then continued for decades into the democratic era. They would eventually get the answers they demanded, giving closure to hundreds of people whose loved ones were murdered during the regime.

40 years of turning up and not giving up.

Wear black on Thursdays

Thursdays in Black is a global campaign that was started by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its approach was inspired by movements of courageous women like the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. You can read about the others here.

The WCC relaunched Thursdays in Black on International Women’s Day this year, urging churches and people of faith to join the movement of wearing black in solidarity with women facing violence.

Every Thursday, staff at UnitingWorld and many of our international church partners wear black as an act of solidarity to honour women everywhere facing violence and injustice.

It’s a small gesture, but a powerful symbol of our unity of purpose and commitment to act.

Imagine how powerful it would be if every person of faith thought this issue was important enough to turn up every week for. I’d like to think that most of us already do, we just don’t all turn up.

How to get involved

It’s simple:

Wear black on Thursdays. And if you have one – wear a badge to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence. Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of violence and injustice.

Start conversations about the issue and encourage others to join the movement.

Get in touch at info@unitingworld.org.au if you’d like us to send you out a badge.

We’re also collecting photos of participating partner churches here. Church partners from Papua New Guinea, West Papua, Bali, Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands all participate. Some have been involved for many years. Inspiring!

Send us yours: info@unitingworld.org.au

Bible college teachers and youth leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu. Photo by Martha Yamsiu Kaluatman

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. We support Pacific churches to lead a dialogue in the theology of gender equality and address violence against women in their communities. Read more.

 Click here to support our work.

In September we asked you to help support Pacific women in the fight against inequality and violence. And you responded, donating over $58,000 so far, and sending beautiful words of encouragement for your Pacific sisters!

Throughout the year we’ve been heartened to see more men attending workshops that address equality, hear more stories of changes in family and community life and a gradual take up of biblical messages around the equality of women and girls.

If you want to inspire your congregation with a real-life story of change, watch Pastor Nipi’s testimony from Vanuatu at www.unitingworld.org.au/pacificwomen 

“I never knew what gender balance was or what it meant in relation to the Bible,” Pastor Nipi said. “At first I thought – what is this ‘gender balance’ they are talking about? We never believed men and women could be equal. But as I made my studies and we talked, I realised there is something there for me to learn! It has infected me! I like it!”

Thank you for the $58,000 you’ve given so far for this project. Your gifts will:

  • Pay trainers for workshops for advocates against violence against women
  • Help develop and distribute Bible study material to be used in difficult to reach places in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

We continue to need funding to provide places for women and men to attend training for anti-violence advocacy in Kiribati and Tuvalu, where our work is just beginning and critically needed. In these communities, women are still unable to practice leadership even if they are trained for the positions, and the issue of domestic violence desperately needs to be addressed. If you’re still planning to give, we’d gratefully receive your gift for this work at www.unitingworld.org/pacificwomen

Here are a few of the messages of support we’ve been delighted to pass on to our friends in the Pacific:

Dear Sisters in the Pacific, I encourage you to remember John 10:10 “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” Please believe and discuss the biblical understanding that men and women are equal. I am sorry that earlier church teaching has disempowered women. I encourage you all to follow your dreams, to claim equality with all people, to take up any opportunities for learning and employment, to know that you are not alone. Women in Australia support and pray for you. 

–Jennifer

Keep going. Stay strong. I admire your bravery

– Aasha (11yrs)

I look forward to receiving news about how my friends in the Pacific Islands are going. I was very excited to read the account of Past Lima Tura and activities in Timor Leste. I like to show the photos to my grandkids. One of my favourite verses is Philippians 4:19. It says “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” 

– Anon

Hello my sisters in Christ, I encourage you to continue to make the gospel of Jesus Christ known, sharing His love and His power to transform lives. There is no male or female in Christ so do not think yourselves inferior in any way, for you were created in His image to give Him glory. Your brother in Christ.

– Gordon

Thank you everyone who sent messages!

*Header Photo: Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer with emerging leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu