International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

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Friday 25 November 2022 marks the International Day for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) which starts 16 days of global activism. This year’s theme is “Unite! Activism to End VAWG” 

Here in the UK, VAWG continues to be the most pervasive violation of human rights.  The cost-of-living crisis is exacerbating the problem as poverty traps increasing numbers of women and girls in situations where they are exploited, oppressed and abused. Migrant women with no recourse to public funds are not protected by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and are therefore particularly vulnerable.

VAWG is a global issue: over the last few weeks in Iran, several young women have been attacked or killed while protesting against laws which forbid them to remove their hijab in public, and there are reports of systematic rape used as a weapon of war in Ukraine. The UN has reported a global increase in VAWG since the pandemic, with 45% of women disclosing that they or someone they know has been subjected to violence. There is also an increased backlash against global initiatives to end VAWG, including several countries backing out of the Istanbul Convention. Around the world, a woman or girl is killed by a partner or family member every 11 minutes.

We know that women with a religious faith can face additional barriers when trying to escape abuse in the home.  The “Keeping the Faith Report” highlighted the fact that survivors with a religious faith found that their needs were not met by statutory services, who did not understand their faith needs,  or by their faith communities who did not understand the abuse they were suffering. They may also be subjected to spiritual abuse; the perpetrator manipulating and exploiting the victim’s faith in order to control them. Sometimes with a twisted and weaponised version of scripture.

The dignity of all people is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching, and Pope Francis calls us to unite to end violence against women and girls. He has said that “to hurt a woman is an insult to God”. He has also spoken of the importance of supporting women who have been subjected to violence and ill treatment.

If you would like to join in this call to action, the following organisations may be of help:

UN Women Action Guide

Women’s Aid 

Welsh Women’s Aid 

Safe in Faith (Caritas Westminster) 

National Domestic Abuse helpline – 0808 2000 247 

Live Fear Free Helpline (Wales) – 0808 80 10 800   

Galop – 0800 999 5428

Rape Crisis – 0808 802 9999