Churches Mark ‘Thursdays in Black’ Campaign. 4/6/2015

Published by CHURCH OF SCOTLAND

A joint meeting took place this week of the Church of Scotland's Violence Against Women Task Group, and the Action of Churches Together in Scotland's Anti Human Trafficking Group.

The two groups met not only to share ideas, but to acknowledge the strong links between human trafficking and violence against women, and in particular its links with prostitution and sexual exploitation of women.

As the meeting took place on a Thursday the participants chose to take part in the campaign 'Thursdays in Black', which was started by the World Council of Churches in the 1980s as a form of peaceful protest against rape and violence – and in particular abuse taking place during wars and conflicts. The main focus of the campaign is how individuals, churches and communities can challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence.

Dr Fulata Mbano-Moyo, WCC programme executive for Women in Church and Society, outlines the aim of the campaign:

"Thursdays in Black is a united global expression of the desire for safe communities where we can all walk safely without fear of being raped, shot at, beaten up, verbally abused and discriminated against due to one's gender or sexual orientation."

"Through this campaign we want to accompany our sisters, who bear the scars of violence, invisible and visible, in Syria, Palestine and Israel, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and the whole world, where women's bodies remain a battlefield, whether in armed conflict or so-called 'peaceful' situations - through this campaign we are demanding a world free of rape and violence!"

The campaign and other gender-based violence initiatives taking place in the global church in the 1980s led to the creation of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, which started in 1988. In the 1990s 'Thursdays in Black' also drew parallels with the 'Women in Black' campaign in Serbia and Croatia, which emerged during the Balkan war. Through this initiative, Serbian women called people to join them in speaking against the use of rape as a weapon of war, and to take part in solidarity visits to strengthen their work.

Through its membership of the World Council of Churches, and its links with partner churches through the world, the Church of Scotland challenges the structures and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women, and stands in solidarity with those who speak out against it.