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Silent No More

24 March 2011 — Peter Grant — Blog

Silent No More is a chance to learn more about sexual violence in conflict affected countries and to speak out against it. 

On Monday 21 March, the Restored team had the privilege of being part of the launch of a report looking at the church’s response to sexual violence in conflict affected countries.  This was based on research commissioned by Tearfund in DR Congo, Rwanda and Liberia .  Silent No More is a shocking report in terms of the suffering that it highlights and the failure of the church to respond or speak out.  People have high expectations of the church as a safe place where they should find help and support.  Despite some notable exceptions, including Restored member HEAL Africa in Goma,  the church has failed to live up to this vision and has often been a place of indifference or stigma.  Many were reminded of the church’s position on HIV in the past, and noted that this also gives hope that change is possible.  

The report was launched at Lambeth Palace by a range of speakers including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, and the Archbishops of Congo and Burundi.  It was stressed that sexual violence is a universal problem, not limited to Africa or conflict-affected areas.  To emphasise this, Natalie Collins from Restored spoke about her own experience of abuse within the UK. 

The day played an important role in raising the profile of violence against women within the church.  It provided a strong encouragement to Restored for us to press forward with our work.  Five of Restored’s trustees, and a range Restored members, were involved in the day and spoke out in plenary and group discussions on how the church could respond more effectively to sexual violence.  All of us can play a part in this.  Go to www.wewillspeakout.org to read the report and add you name to the pledge :

We will speak out.  We will be silent no more.  We stand together in solidarity with the most vulnerable.  We dedicate ourselves to finding lasting solutions; mobilising leadership at all levels.   We will promote laws that model, protect and promote justice, enable healthy relationships and challenge those that don’t.  We will work to ensure that these laws are enforced.  We commit to take action together to see all girls, women, boys and men freed from the threat and impact of sexual violence across the world.