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Coordinator United Religions Initiative Council for Women
Dear members and friends of the URI
Council for Women
Two days ago, at a telephone conference
with the coordinators of the URI Multi Regional Cooperation Circles,
we had an inspiring exchange of thoughts and ideas. This conference
helped me to further develop ideas for writing this Newsletter.
(Please, send me your response to the proposals at the end of
The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith co-operation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
In the previous Newsletter 7 of June 2006, I asked whether members of the Council for Women thought it important to commemorate annually the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th.
I also asked to propose activities to be stimulated or organised by URI globally and the URI Council for Women.
I did not receive any response to these questions. To develop ideas to eliminate violence against women and children, we need to be aware of the seriousnous of the problem. We also need to be aware that this violence does not only happen far away and in other cultures, but also in our country, city, neighbourhood. We also need to be aware that violence against women and children occurs in every religious and cultural tradition.
My awareness on this problem started when giving courses and lectures on "Reading the Bible with Women's Eyes". Before I thought I did not know any women who had experienced sexual abuse. Since then I have heard, interviewed and councelled so many women who have been sexually abused, that I know that the allarming statistics of violence against women express the hidden facts of the lives of numerous women and children.
In 1998, when participating in the URI Charter writing process, I expected that URI would be a place where the worldwide violations of women's human rights would become one of the major issues, particularly after the cooperation with Dr. Javid Iqbal, Dr. Waheed Siddiqee in the Research and Development Group Religious Rights and Responsibilities. In this paper, we referred to the Interdependence of Religious Rights and Responsibilities. Dr. Waheed Sidiqee's contribution was about the Reality of Poverty and Inequality and Proposals for Change in the Gap between the Rich and the Poor. My contribution was about The reality that Women are Worldwide Subjected to Inequalities. Included were 23 statistics about the worldwide violence against women and children and Proposals to Promote, Protect, and Implement Women's Human Rights. The paper concluded with Some Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Texts that Promote Equality, Justice, Respect, Solidarity, and Peace among People and Preserve the Earth.
When talking with Sharon L. Franquemont about my experience that many people had no idea about the worldwide violence against women and children, she proposed to include these statistics in a prayer. It leaded to the Ceremony at the United Religions Initiative Global Summit Conference "Living into the United Religions", Palo Alto, California, June 21 - 26, 1998. On our request, seven women and six men from different religious gave on turn an example of the worldwide violence against women and children.
After the ceremony many participants expressed
they were shocked, particularly by the figures about violence
against women and children in their own country. (If you want
to receive the text of this Ceremony, or the text of please send
me an e-mail.)
On November 25th 2006, former UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan expressed: "Violence against women causes
untold misery, harms families across generations, and impoverishes
communities. It stops women from fulfilling their potential,
restricts economic growth, and undermines development. When it
comes to violence against women, there are no civilized societies."
Violence against women and girls is a universal problem of epidemic proportions. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights viollation that we know today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
Statistics paint a horrifying picture of
the social and health consequences of violence against women.
Violence against women is a major cause of detah and disability
for women 16 to 44 years of age . It is as serious a cause
of detah and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer,
kand a greater cause of ill-health than traffic accidents and
malaria combined. . Serveral studies have revealed increasing
links between violence against women and HIV/AIDS. Women who
have experienced violence are a a higher risk of HIV infection:
a survey among 1,366 South African women showed that women who
were beaten by their partners were 48 per cent more likely to
be infected with HIV than those who were not .
As our purpose in URI is to end religiously
motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and
healing, it is not enoug to pay attention to the UN International
Day of Peace on September 21. We also need to open our eyes for
the alarming facts of the worldwide violations of women's human
rights and to start commemorating the UN International Day for
the Elimination of Violence against women on November 25th.
In the middle of the page you see a box with the Symbol of the United Nations and International Day of Peace September 21st, 2006. If you click on that part you find a text written by the Staff of URI with much information on this issue.
I ask you for your support for my proposals:
Please, responde to these proposals. I also ask you to send me statistics on violence against women in you country and/or city.
Since 1999 women and men who expressed being interested in information about the URI Council for women, are considered as members or friends of the URI Council for Women. They will receive the URI Council for Women Newsletter until they indicate they want to be removed from this list.