World Council of Churches (WCC) ambassadors of the Thursdays in Black campaign are standing behind a joint statement that urges both awareness and protection from the “dual pandemics” of COVID-19 and gender-based violence.
“As countries respond to COVID-19 with necessary restrictions on movements and activities, more people are calling violence hotlines and crying for help in other ways,” the statement reads. "The effects of lockdown, job losses, and the sheer vulnerability of people who were already on the margins of society are all serious concerns."
The ambassadors for Thursdays in Black, a global campaign for a world free from rape and violence, are also featured in an accompanying video, speaking from the heart on the higher incidences of violence that have been reported during global quarantines.
“Conflicts and crises nearly always carry gender-based burdens – which can be compounded by other factors such as race and ethnicity, ability, and economics,” reads the statement. “We urge everyone to care for the persons in their homes, personal relationships, and in all workplaces still serving the public good.”
Among the 13 ambassadors is WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom, who signed the statement urging change at both the grassroots and leadership levels.
“We encourage churches to be involved in creating physical and virtual safe spaces for those who are not safe in their homes,” the statement reads. “This can include support to local professionals and caregivers in the field of sexual and gender-based violence through prayer, space, materials, and money.”
While we need to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we must not victimize or stigmatize people in the process, the statement concludes. “We also must look beyond the current crisis and renew our resolve to address the root causes of sexual and gender-based violence that are only exacerbated during conflicts and crises,” the text reads. "As Thursdays in Black ambassadors, we pray that people of faith join us in creating a world of justice and peace in these challenging times.”