On the International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women, 25 November 2009, the World Council of Churches (WCC) announced a series of Lenten study resources for congregations and individuals who want to do their bit to end violence against women.
Featuring films and stories from places as diverse as Colombia, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo and New Zealand, the WCC Decade to Overcome Violence website will host the interactive resources from 17 February until 4 April 2010.
Church congregations, community groups and individuals will be invited to sign up to follow the bible studies, use the liturgical resources and become involved in online discussions to advance the cause of ending violence against women. The resources will be available as a downloadable toolkit.
The campaign is a partnership of the WCC, the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and the World Young Women's Christian Association (World YWCA).
"These stories are shocking. But what also shines through is the resilience of these women. Against incredible odds, communities are finding ways to build solidarity and act compassionately", says Dr Fulata Mbano Moyo, WCC programme executive for Women in Church and Society.
"By calling violence against women by its real name – sin – and challenging the silence which has traditionally surrounded this issue, especially within the church, we are inviting people around the globe to work towards healing and wholeness, in their own lives and in the wider world", Mbano Moyo adds.
"We want to show that this is a global problem, affecting all cultures and every part of society," says the WSCF General Secretary, the Rev Michael Wallace. "Endemic levels of violence are a major theological challenge and a significant issue for young people. We cannot pretend this problem doesn't exist."
The stories of violence differ – from caste oppression to human trafficking, from domestic violence to systematic rape as a war crime – but the human costs are the same in terms of suffering, fear, stigma and shame.
The cost of violence is borne not only by the women who are victims, but by their families and the perpetrators themselves. These study resources invite participants to bear witness and to reflect on ways that healing may come from honestly dealing with the sin, and having solidarity and compassion for both victims and perpetrators.
A sample of the Lenten study resources "Cries of Anguish, Stories of Hope" is available at: