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Anglican Communion’s work on gender-based violence influences United Nations Human Rights Council

Posted on: July 1, 2024 11:38 AM

The Anglican Communion’s work on gender-based violence played a role in informing the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council recently. 

The Revd Glen Ruffle, the Anglican Communion’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in Geneva, submitted a report based on Anglican experiences of gender-based violence and prostitution, to the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem. The Special Rapporteur has used it (along with other submissions) in a report to justify a call for ‘global action to recognise and combat prostitution as a system of violence against women and girls’. 

The report explores how patriarchal norms, economic inequalities, and globalisation contribute to the proliferation of prostitution. 

Glen said, “It is important to see the voices of women and girls who have suffered so much being represented and articulated at the UN by the Special Rapporteur, and to know we had a small part in helping those voices be heardWe also hope it is rewarding for the many Anglicans working on the frontlines with women and girls who are committed to changing violent behaviours and structures. 

He continued, “But action is what we need: UN member states have heard clear messages that women and girls are suffering physical, psychological and economic violence through prostitution and that pornography is a gateway to this. The focus must now be on the states to act.” 

“Prostitution sexualises and racialises poverty, and targets women from marginalised backgrounds, who often lack access to protection services or viable livelihood opportunities, increasing their vulnerability to further exploitation,” Alsalem said. “The underlying structural inequalities that mostly affect women and girls must be addressed.” 

The Anglican Communion’s contribution to this report is part of ongoing advocacy at the UN to inform how countries respond to gender-based violence. In meetings with governments, UN officials and at events like the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN team shares the experiences and expertise of Anglican women and men, who are often leading efforts to transform violence in their communities and provide medical, social and spiritual support for women who have survived disasters and conflict. Much of this work is championed by the Anglican Communion’s International Women’s Network, who recently elected a new Chair and Deputy Chairand informed by the Director for Gender Justice. 

The Anglican Communion has representation at the UN through which we seek to convey the voices of our churches to the international system to bring about reform and change. 

The UN Human Rights Council meets in Geneva three times each year, hearing feedback from Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts on a range of themes that they have been investigating with the collaboration of civil society. 

We submit information from our churches to guide states as they seek to act in response to the findings presented. 

Read the Special Rapporteur’s full report here. The Anglican Communion’s contribution is found on page 4, footnote 37.