17 Jun 2019

Churches admit slow-pace in action against gender violence in Pacific

11:52 am on 17 June 2019

The Pacific Conference of Churches admits there has been a lack of urgency by the church in addressing gender-based violence in the region.

Domestic violence

Photo: 123RF

Its general-secretary James Bhagwan said they have also been complicit.

He said a monitoring system is being planned in which faith communities will be held accountable to the commitments they make to stop gender-based violence.

"I acknowledge that for far too long, we as the churches have not only been slow to address this issue, we have also been complicit in this issue. But we have to recognise and own that. We are looking to see how we can be more intentional in translating the statements and declarations made by our member churches into some significant movement on this issue."

Reverend Bhagwan said they were working with the churches to address the issue.

"One of the things that we are currently looking at is to establish a commission on the status of women in Pacific churches which we hope to launch next year," he said.

"This is a review and report process which will look at where each church is on addressing these issues and then on a regular basis, measure and report back to see what shifts have taken place.

"So that there is a recognized monitoring system to hold all of our faith communities accountable to the commitments that they themselves have made," said Rev Bhagwan.

Reverend Bhagwan welcomed a recent study by New Zealand academics urging the churches to do more to stop violence against women in Samoa.

The leader of the project, Mercy Ah-Siu Maliko, of Otago University said more than 60 percent of Samoan women were victims of domestic violence.

Dr Maliko said the root of violence against women or family violence is gender inequality.

But she said in order for women to achieve gender equality in Samoa, they must first be given leadership roles in the church.

The report, titled Church Responses To Gender-Based Violence Against Women in Samoa, has been translated into Samoan.

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