Churches pray for end to violence against women

Churches will be praying today for the millions of women victims of violence worldwide.

They are supporting White Ribbon day, the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

White Ribbon day is held each year on 25 November, the anniversary of the 1960 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic.

In addition to praying, many churches have put up awareness posters in ladies toilets - a lifeline for abused women.

Mandy Marshall will be the Church of England's representative at next year's UN Commission on the Status of Women.

She believes churches are well-placed to offer support and information to women affected by violence.

"UN statistics show that, globally, women between the ages of 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war com­bined," she said.

"Churches play host to community activities all week as well as on Sunday and can offer support on this issue by awareness raising campaigns as it is all too easy to think it only happens to others.

"Prayer is vital but we have found that posters put up in ladies toilets with contact information can be a lifeline for women who feel they have nowhere to turn to."

The Anglican Consultative Council, which met this month in New Zealand, also called for an end to gender based violence.

The international meeting, which was attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, said it was "time for action" to stamp out the problem as it urged churches to support grassroots initiatives.

Dr Charles Reed, the Archbishops' Council International and Development Affairs Secretary, said: "The issue of gender violence can often be overlooked but Home Office statistics show that, in the UK alone, 25% of women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime."