Christian leaders urged to use position to fight gender-based violence

The World Council of Churches' deputy general secretary called on Christians to use their power to stop sexual and gender-based violence in their homes and also within the walls of the church.

(REUTERS / Khaled al-Hariri)A Palestinian boy watches his mother cry after she enters Syria from Iraq at the border point of Tanaf, May 9, 2006.

During the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Leipzig, Germany, WCC deputy general secretary Dr. Isabel Apawo Phiri and Indian theologian Revd Dr. Philip Vinod Peacock talked about gender justice and Christians' role in fighting for the discriminated and exploited. Phiri paid particular attention to gender-based violence in churches and homes, describing it as a global issue, the Anglican News detailed.

"Sexual and any form of violence against minorities and marginalised groups of people is about power and control ... The time of normalising the oppression of the minorities in our churches is over," Dr. Phiri told the delegates at the WCRC. "We are now leading by example by protecting those who are not able to speak for themselves or those whose voices are not listened to. Let your voices be heard in your countries and in international spaces as you speak out for justice."

Dr. Phiri also lauded "Thursdays in Black" and other similar campaigns as a move that shows one's refusal to be complicit to sexual and gender-based violence by staying silent, adding that Christians are not doing their best to speak out against the issue. She also noted an increase in the number of incidents of human trafficking and gender-based violence in refugee camps.

Meanwhile, the European Union has grabbed the reins in a global initiative which aims to prevent gender-based violence when humanitarian crises occur. Last month, the EU launched the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence to urge the international community to do more to protect girls, women, and even boys and men located in crisis zones, Voice of America reported.

European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations director-general Monique Pariat said simple measures such as having separated and well-lit toilets in refugee camps can help prevent gender-based violence. She also said providing safe access to food, water, and hospitals can also do a lot to address the problem.