This Saturday, 25th November, marks the UN International Day for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the start of 16 days of global activism. As Catholics, we have a responsibility to join this movement: the work to end VAWG is deeply rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.
“Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation and is often perpetrated by the people closest to them: around the world, a woman is murdered by a partner or family member every 11 minutes,” said Caritas.
“Women and girls are particularly vulnerable in times of war; sexual violence is used as a weapon of war and is also rife in refugee camps.
In the UK, domestic abuse disproportionately affects women, with one in four (and one in two Deaf and disabled women) subjected to domestic abuse during their lifetime. Research has shown that women with a religious faith tend to stay longer in abusive marriages, and that statutory services often fail to meet their spiritual needs.”
This year’s theme for the international day for ending VAWG is “Unite! Invest to end violence against women and girls”
As Catholics, we can answer the call to action in many ways, investing not just money, but our time, skills and willingness to speak up and raise awareness of this issue. The Holy Father recently called us all to end violence against women, describing it as ‘a poisonous weed that plagues our society and must be pulled up from its roots’.
The Church in England and Wales is answering the call through the work of the National Board of Catholic Women, CSAN, and projects like Caritas Westminster’s Bakhita House and Safe in Faith. This year, the CSAN domestic abuse alliance is focusing on the issues of migrant women, who are particularly vulnerable when they are subjected to interpersonal violence. Women with no recourse to public funds face barriers to some of the protection and services which are accessible to other victims and survivors, and their rights are not protected by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
“Catholics across England and Wales are encouraged to join the call to action, with a 16-day calendar of suggested actions to help you take part in the global movement to end VAWG,” said Caritas.
“You can download the calendar from the website below; please share it in your parishes and join us in prayer and in action to protect the lives and dignity of women and girls around the world.”