Day 1, 16 Days of Activism 2022
Written by Lynnaia Main of The Episcopal Church
Transforming the Silence
Today, November 25th, is the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women and begins the annual campaign to transform the great silence over a worldwide pandemic: violence against women and girls. A pandemic, because of its longstanding, pervasive, worldwide occurrence despite time, geography and culture. According to UN Women, nearly one in three women aged 15 and older worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their lives. COVID-19’s effects, from the stresses and family tensions that could lead to violence, to life in lockdown with violent intimate partners, resulted in a marked, evidence-based rise in domestic violence against women and girls to such levels that this phenomenon became known as a “shadow pandemic”. And yet, less than 40 per cent of the women who experience violence seek help, and when they do, it’s mainly by turning to family and friends rather than public services such as health providers or law enforcement. Less than 10% seek help from the police. This silence means that the actual occurrences of violence against women and girls are almost certain higher than we realize.
November 25th also marks the first day of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an international campaign that seeks to break this silence surrounding gender-based violence. From November 25th through December 10th, International Human Rights Day, the 16 Days campaign is an annual pause to talk, speak up and speak out, educate ourselves and each other, raise awareness and advocate for change in our communities and government policies. It recognizes that eliminating all forms of violence – against women, against anyone who is abused because of gender – is a human rights violation that hurts us all.
As individuals and groups within the member organizations of Ecumenical Women – including The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion – speak up and speak out over these coming 16 Days on behalf of those who experience gender-based violence, we invite you to pray for healing for these survivors. We remember and pray for those whose silence hides the pain and the prison of denial that victims, survivors, perpetrators, their families and their communities live under, preventing the examining light of truth to bring healing and justice.
Pray that the great silence of this pain, and individual and communal denial, becomes a space where Jesus alone can meet and walk alongside them in compassion. Pray that the Holy Spirit transforms this inner place into one of healing and a grace-filled space of redemption, resurrection, rest and renewal. Pray with thanksgiving for those who teach us that the silence of our pain can become a holy and transforming private meeting place with Jesus, who himself suffered the silence of the tomb to redeem and heal our souls.