4 November 2011

Are we silent to violence around us?

‘We’re perpetrators. We allowed this to happen’, said a Bishop form the Democratic Republic of Congo at the launch of the Silent No More Report. This response recognised The Church, by its silence, has been complicit in allowing sexual violence to go unaddressed.

Globally, the UN estimates 150m girls and 73m boys under 18 have experienced sexual violence. Education can play a key role in increasing awareness of the impact of sexual violence. Schools can help young people avoid violence and empower girls to live free from violence and abuse. Sexual violence is endemic in many global communities yet its scale and impact are largely hidden.

Aid agencies, governments and donors need to recognise the potential of The Church to respond to this crisis. As with any change, three main activities need addressing: speaking out; helping change entrenched attitudes; and providing practical care for survivors.

Another opportunity is to take action via a campaign run by Restored – my new host organisation – is First Man Standing offering an opportunity for men everywhere to be the first in their family, club, church or workplace to stand up and speak out about building strong relationships and ending violence against women (VAW).

With nine months to go until the London Olympics, Dr Catherine Palmer of Durham University offers a report to Lord Coe, Chair of London Olympics, calling for urgent action to protect women from violence. Strategies sought include: visitor packs on domestic violence, sexual consent and paying for sex for someone coerced; ensuring Ambassadors know the law around rape and assault; providing a women’s safety audit to ensure women are safe at the games. We can all make the London Olympics safe for women.

Finally, cyberbullying has now moved into social networking, and in 2010 33% report email stalking; 32% stalking texts, and 84% stalking on social media. 81% experience fear, damage to reputation or financial loss. Professor Maple of University of Bedfordshire calls for providers to offer care to the consumers and have a clear process to report harassment. As social networking continues to grow, we can all ensure young people, women and men are free from cyber bullying. Take a stance and don’t put with violence – you don’t have to! Sign up to Silent No More and/or ‘First Man Standing’, or lobby your MP about keeping the 2012 Olympics and/or the internet are safe as they can be.