Video Statement for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta
25 November 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is my solemn honour to recognise International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Each week in Australia, one woman is killed by a current or former partner yet often violence against women and girls is shrouded in silence and shame. When domestic violence is reported, there can be failures to adequately protect women and girls or to bring perpetrators to justice.
Violence against women and girls takes the forms of physical violence, sexual abuse, psychological, emotional and spiritual harm and coercive control. In our own Church community, there are both victims and perpetrators of violence. It is important that we understand that to stay silent in the face of violence against women and girls is antithetical to the teachings of Christ. To minimise a victim’s experience or to react with disbelief protects the perpetrator, not the victim.
As Christians, we strive to respond with compassion to those who have been harmed in our community. We can work towards the elimination of violence against women and girls by providing safe and affirming support that allows victims to disclose abuse. We can advocate for justice and ensure that victims have the means and confidence to be heard and believed.
Jesus always protected the vulnerable and exposed evil. He respected the human dignity of women. Consistently, Jesus advocated for the vulnerable and he challenged injustices. He even broke social taboos so that human love, acceptance and friendship could flourish.
Gender inequity and rigid gender stereotypes create the conditions that allow violence against women and girls to occur. Violence, abuse and intimidation are manifest in the unholy use of power and control over another. Paul articulated Jesus’s equitable vision of the kingdom in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew or Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all one in Christ Jesus.”
The vision and example of Jesus inspires us to strive for a community that is founded on equality, respect, justice and peace.