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Pope Francis Calls for Global Action Against Violence on Women, Emphasizing Responsibility and Dignity
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Pope Francis spoke on Wednesday, underscoring the crucial importance of addressing violence against women and domestic abuse, labeling it as "everyone's responsibility" to give a voice to those who often suffer in silence. The Pope's message was directed toward an Italian campaign aimed at ending violence against women, and it was published on November 8, shedding light on the urgent need for educational initiatives that place the dignity of every individual at the forefront.
Photo credit: Ben White
Pope Francis passionately expressed, "It is our duty, everyone's responsibility, to give voice to our voiceless sisters: women who are victims of abuse, exploitation, marginalization, and inappropriate pressure." He further urged society to take action without indifference, emphasizing the necessity to act resolutely, urgently, and courageously at all levels.
Global statistics from the United Nations reveal that nearly one in three women worldwide has experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, not even accounting for instances of sexual harassment. Moreover, countries like Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been identified as some of the most dangerous places for women, as indicated by a 2018 Reuters survey.
In the context of Italy, recent government data from 2022 exposes a chilling reality, with an average of one woman being killed every three days, many of them falling victim to violence at the hands of an intimate partner or former partner.
Pope Francis reflected upon the tremendous burden of violence that women bear, lamenting, "How many women are overwhelmed by the burden and trauma of violence? How many are mistreated, abused, enslaved, victims of the tyranny of those who think they can control their bodies and lives, forced to surrender to the greed of men."
The Pope firmly asserted that violence against women must be eradicated at its roots, addressing prejudiced notions that perceive individuals as mere objects to be dominated, thus obscuring their inherent human dignity. He emphasized, "The Lord wants us free and in full dignity! Faced with the scourge of physical and psychological abuse of women, there is an urgent need to rediscover just and equitable relationship patterns based on respect and mutual recognition."
The Vatican released this powerful message just two weeks after Pope Francis signed it on October 27. This timing coincided with the Holy See Press Office's announcement that the Pope had decided to eliminate the statute of limitations in the case of Father Marko Rupnik, a priest accused of serious abuses against women. The decision came in response to the outrage and disappointment expressed by many Catholics and abuse victims over the handling of clerical sex abuse allegations, especially after news broke that the priest had been reinstated into priestly ministry in Slovenia.
Pope Francis also encouraged women's shelters in Italy to continue raising awareness about violence against women. His message specifically addressed a campaign by CADMI, an organization providing housing and legal support to women who have suffered from domestic violence, as well as D.i.Re, a network of women's shelters and organizations in Italy.
Pope Francis added, "From the heart and flesh of a woman salvation came into the world; our degree of humanity is revealed by how we treat women, in all her dimensions." With these words, Pope Francis has resoundingly called for global action to protect and uphold the dignity of women, emphasizing that it is the shared responsibility of all to end the scourge of violence against women.
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