Rt Rev Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, on why men must take a stand against domestic violence


- Credit: Archant

In a few weeks’ time, on November 25, I will pin a white ribbon to my lapel and wear it for 16 days in my public ministry as Bishop of Stepney.

I’m helping to draw attention to one of the most shameful realities to stalk the streets of our everyday life: the outrageous violence experienced by women and girls in every society.

The scale of this around the world is overwhelming. But it is not a phenomenon we can dismiss as somebody else’s problem. Last year in the United Kingdom, 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse, over 400,000 women were sexually assaulted, 70,000 women were raped and thousands more were stalked. These crimes are all the more pernicious because they are often hidden behind closed doors. Fewer than one-in-four people who suffer abuse at the hands of their partner – and only about one in 10 women who experience serious sexual assault -– report it to the police.

As a man I am ashamed of this. But shame alone means little unless it leads to restorative action. I applaud the range of UK Government interventions to try and address the problem of violence against women in all its forms, I’m pleased that there is an international Christian alliance in place (http://www.restoredrelationships.org/), and I support the significant activity that takes place at a local level in the voluntary sector.

But ultimately we blokes have got to man up and recognise we’ve got a problem.

The ‘White Ribbon Campaign’ (http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/) marks the beginning of 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence from 25th November. It’s organised by men who want to be honest about the fact that most gender-based violence is committed by men against women.

As the lead headline on the White Ribbon website says, “Violence against women happens more than you think. It’s mostly committed by men. We won’t stand for it.”

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That little white ribbon won’t change the world – but as the saying goes, I would rather light a small candle than curse the darkness.

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