[Anglican Taonga, by Jo Taylor-De Vocht] Diocesan clergy and staff gave sizzling support to the White Ribbon Day in Christchurch [New Zealand] on Wednesday (25 November).
A “high vis” BBQ and rally in Cathedral Square, organised by the police, featured rugby great Todd Blackadder, Minister Amy Adams and Mayor Lianne Dalziel – with local clergy helping to fry up burgers and bacon butties.
White Ribbon is an international campaign to end violence against women.
The first White Ribbon Day was launched in Canada in 1991 after the mass shooting of 14 female students at the University of Montreal.
Local men rallied in support of the victims and to protest against violence towards women in general. From there White Ribbon grew into an international movement.
Family violence is endemic in New Zealand, especially the victimisation of women and children.
One in three women here will experience physical or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime; 14 women are killed each year by a family member; and 78 per cent of partner homicides are men killing their current or former female partners.
The Revd Mark Barlow, Police Chaplain for Christchurch, was MC for Wednesday's rally. Bishop Victoria Matthews and the new Dean of Christchurch, the Very Revd Lawrence Kimberley, stood by in support.
This week Bishop Victoria also wrote an opinion piece in The Press, stressing the importance of speaking out about family violence.
“It was important to be at the White Ribbon Day rally in Christchurch,” Bishop Victoria said.
“I was delighted to witness the support of the Anglican clergy manning the BBQ.
“However, it was disappointing that the turnout was well below what was anticipated. This event needs support from across the churches and the Anglican parishes.”
Last year the rally attracted around 1500 people but this year’s attendance was much lower.
Scorching temperatures may have been partly to blame.
Meanwhile, Christchurch Diocese has taken a lead in the community by offering training to help clergy better recognise signs of family violence.