Churches can do more to prevent domestic violence

Issues such as gender-based violence and HIV can be taboo topics in some communities and behavioural change requires more than just awareness of the problems, says a country director with the British Council New Zealand, Ingrid Leary.

She says churches are the major influences of behaviour and some can do much more to lead on sensitive issues.

There is often criticism of churches, despite the work they do, and this can be a result of allowing the stigma around AIDS to continue, rather than showing care and compassion, says Leary.

“They are at the heart of the teachings of all the churches in the Pacific.”

“So it’s not a great leap to then suggest that the churches show leadership in those areas for all their parishioners, including the most vulnerable, including women, children, people affected by illnesses including HIV.”

“I mean, Jesus mingled with the lepers.”

At the beginning of December an Ecumenical Bible Study and Worship in Fiji highlighted the plight of women and girls who live through violence.

It was part of 16 Days of Activism drawing attention to the plight of women and children suffering from domestic violence.

The Bible study hosted representatives from numerous religious denominations to a morning of discussion around the verse Ephesians 5: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” — a verse which participants worry is often misquoted.

“This year and last year, we organised both a Break the Silence Sunday,” said one of the organisers and participants Reverend Ann Drummond.

“We sent out liturgical resources and sermon suggestions for that and now we’ve organised this Break the Silence Ecumenical Seminar and Worship.”


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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