THE NEWS THAT the US television star Bill Cosby, convicted of sexual assault and rape, is to be set free not because he is innocent, but because of a previous deal he struck where he admitted in a deposition to drugging women, is shocking and shameful.

The Montcopa district attorney has commented:  “[Cosby] was found guilty by a jury, and now he goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime.”

This will be deeply distressing to the victims of those crimes and to many other women who have suffered assault and abuse. Indeed, it is an insult to them, and to the notion of justice for survivors.

These developments in a high profile case are a reminder that violence against women is a prevalent, daily and shocking reality in our world, across all sectors of society.

That is why, for a number of years, Ekklesia has been supporting the Thursdays in Black campaign initiated by the World Council of Churches and its many partners and friends.

They write: “In every country, gender-based violence is a tragic reality. This violence is frequently hidden, and victims are often silent, fearing stigma and further violence.

“We all have a responsibility to speak out against violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe from rape and violence in homes, schools, work, streets – in all places in our societies.

“The campaign is simple but profound. Wear black on Thursdays. Wear clothing or a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence. Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of injustice and violence. Encourage others to join you. In this campaign, Black is used as a colour of resistance and resilience.”

What does this achieve?

“Thursdays in Black focuses on ways that individuals can challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence, on a personal and public level. It provides an opportunity for people to become part of a worldwide movement which enables the despair, pain and anger about rape and other forms of violence to be transformed into action.”

So please share your Thursdays in Black photos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media or web-based sites, using the hashtag #ThursdaysinBlack and others, such as #EndRape #StopGenderViolence #MeToo #ChurchToo #GBV and #WCC.

Of course, the campaign does not stop at messaging. It is also an opportunity to give active support to refuges, anti-violence projects, women’s groups and others – such as End Violence Against Women, for example.

* Sign the TiB pledge here.

* Facebook: Thursdays in Black.

* Twitter @Thursdays_Black.

* WCC Gender Justice.

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