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As we approach the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and the Global Day
Mothers' Union has produced a Video "No More 1 in 3"
Click on the image above to view this video

The Irish Spin for the "Sixteen Days..." is also available to download
Click on the image below



Remember Midday Prayers are available on the Mothers' Union Facebook page


If you are not on Facebook many of the videos are available on the Mothers' Union YouTube Channel



Click on the image above to download a Resource pack



Click on the image above to download a bookmark
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
2020


16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign. It takes place each year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

Throughout the campaign, we join with others globally to raise  awareness of, and call for an end to, gender-based violence in all forms  and in all societies.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign is an  extension of the day-to-day grassroots work of Mothers’ Union, where we  work alongside communities to help end gender-based violence and to  support those affected by it.
Mothers' Union Global Day ~ 5th December

What is the Mothers’ Union Global Day?
   
Our Global Day is centred around the disturbing figure that “1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced domestic or sexual abuse” and that Mothers’ Union as a leading women’s organisation believe this to be unacceptable.
 
The Global Day will take place on the 5th December 2020 and our initial plans were to ask members to “to step out of their comfort zones” and find a central location where their diocese could hold a peaceful protest.  We wanted the event to begin at 11am so it could end with midday prayers.

  • Online   Protest launches ~ 9am –   throughout MU social channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

  • Online   “Cup of Tea for No More 1 in 3” Join   us with a cup of tea as we take time out our day to reflect and pray for our   “No More 1 in 3 campaign” This will be followed by Midday Prayers ~ 11.30am  – Facebook Live and You Tube

  • No   More 1 in 3 Global Day Service ~ 8pm – Facebook Live and You Tube





Click on the image above to download a Resource pack
16 Days Prayer Diary

 The All-Ireland Mothers’ Union 16 Days Prayer Diary is a captivating and compelling set of reflections, exploring gender-based violence.
 
The articles and reflections contained in the  16 Days Prayer Diary set gender-based violence in the context of our faith, raise awareness of the problem and helps us recognise that this is not somebody else’s problem but it  is ‘our’ together problem.

This beautifully produced, informative, and thought-provoking diary draws its readers into reflection and prayer accompanied by simple points of action

In addition to highlighting the issues involved, it reveals the positive work taking place across the Church of Ireland in engaging with domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

Contributors include GFS, Protestant Aid, the Church and Society Commission, the Church of Ireland Marriage Council, CRiTiCALL and Bishop’s Appeal who highlight Mothers’ Union, Tearfund and Christian Aid supported projects. It has been funded by the Church of Ireland Priorities Fund and the Church of Ireland Council for Mission.

Combatting gender-based violence is at the heart of Mothers’ Union concern through advocacy, prayer and practical matters.  Each year we take part  in the international campaign of the  16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. It begins on the 25th November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on the 10th December, International Human Rights Day.

The 16 Days Prayer Diary, is a timely resource, given these pandemic times which have  provided testimony to a disturbing  “shadow pandemic”. In Ireland alone Women’s Aid has seen a 43% increase in calls to their helplines since March 2020.

All Mothers’ Union members will receive a copy of the Prayer Diary through their dioceses. If  you would like to undertake this journey of reflection, prayer and action copies may be ordered from Mothers’ Union at allireland.mothersunion@gmail.ie.  Postage costs will apply.

The Diary may also be downloaded from the website. Just click on the image of the diary cover.



Click on the image above to download a copy of the
Prayer Diary



An image from Day 4 of the Prayer Diary

Click on the image above to read a report
from Jacqui Armstrong
NO MORE 1 IN 3! – 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM 2020
A Prayer

Loving Lord,
your care and love are ever present in our lives.
We pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world
who live in situations of abuse and violence.

Give them hope in their hopelessness;
help them find strength in their weakness;
grant them freedom from their oppression;
transform their brokenness into wholeness;
and heal their wounds, visible and invisible.

Grant us all the courage and wisdom, grace and humility,
to act at all times with compassion and care.
And grant all who are harmed by abuse or coercion, peace through justice.
This we ask in Jesus name. Amen.

BBC Programme "Spotlight" Focuses on Domestic Abuse

Spotlight on domestic abuse: How lockdown created a 'perfect storm'
You can see Spotlight on BBC One NI, Tuesday 10th November at 22:45 GMT and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.


Click on the image for the Spotlight Programme to access a Written Report


I Received Flowers
 
Today I received flowers!
It’s not my birthday or any other special day;
we had our first fight last night,
he said some cruel things to me that really offended me.
But I know he’s sorry and didn’t mean what he said,
because today he sent me flowers.
It’s not our anniversary or any other special day.
 
Yesterday he threw me against the wall and started suffocating me.
It was like a nightmare, but we wake up from
nightmares and discover that they are not real.
Today I woke up full of pain and with bruises all over my body.
But I know he’s sorry
because today he sent me flowers.
And it’s not Valentine’s Day or any other special day.
 
Last night he hit me and threatened to kill me.
Neither the make-up nor the long sleeves could hide
the cuts and bruises that I suffered this time.
I couldn’t go to work today,
because I didn’t want anyone to notice.
But I know he’s sorry
because today he sent me flowers.
And it wasn’t Mother’s Day or any other special day.

Last night he hit me again, but this time it was much worse.
If I manage to leave him, what would I do?
How could I bring up my children on my own?
What will happen if the money runs out?
I’m so frightened of him!
But I depend on him so much that I am afraid to leave him.
But I know he’s sorry,
because today he sent me flowers.

Today is a very special day: it is the day of my funeral.
 Yesterday he finally managed to kill me.
He hit me until I died.
If only I had had the courage and the strength to leave him…
 If only I had asked for professional help…
I wouldn’t be receiving flowers today!
 
(Translation of ‘Hoje Recebi Flores’, author unknown, Brazil, Christian Aid: Loving One Another, p17)



While we, in Mothers' Union, focus in particular on domestic violence during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence domestic violence is an issue that, unfortunately, some have to live with all the year round. We are very aware from media reports that violence against women, children and men has increased greatly during the last year, as families have been confined to their homes due to Covid-19 and get no respite from the stresses and strains which may exist in the family home.  Refuges throughout the country have been struggling to cope with the demand for their services. Many refuges greatly appreciate the support they receive from Mothers' Union in the form of gifts of toiletries, toys, clothes and food items to give to those in need. Sadly, this year we will not be able to hold vigils in the usual format but we hope that Branches will still find a way to give much needed support to their local refuge.

The Gardaí treat reports of domestic and sexual abuse very seriously and a great deal of information is available on their website:

The PSNI have information regarding domestic abuse on their website:
The article written by one of our trustees, Lesley Bayley, Diocesan President of Cashel, Ferns, Ossory tells a very poignant story of how she was a victim of domestic abuse. Lesley's story also shows us that with the help and support of family and friends victims can escape such violent situations and go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

CRiTiCALL

CRiTiCALL is a new  initiative set up to support people emerging from domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

CRiTiCALL aims to provide support to help people in  their journey to safety by offering practical resources along with  comfort and encouragement from within the community including:

  • Donations – purchasing much-needed items and dropping them off to the nearest centre
  • Volunteer your home – volunteer a holiday home or second property as a safe haven
  • Letters of courage and hope to those emerging from domestic abuse

A Reflection written by Jacqui Armstrong  
                                                                                                             
Two  days before our very first Vigil in November 2105 I received a phone  call from BBC Radio Foyle. An elderly lady had read notices in windows  regarding the 16 Days Prayer Vigil.  She had rung Radio Foyle to urge them to advertise the event and encourage people to come along.  

The  lady herself had a remarkable story to tell and a reporter had been  dispatched to her home to tape her story.  Could I possibly come to the  studio for 8am as they would like me to sit in on her recorded interview  before speaking about the 16 Days Prayer Vigil in the lead up to the 8.30am news bulletin.  Prime radio time – a nerve wracking opportunity not to be missed!

I  sat aghast and fought back the tears as Bridie’s horrific story  unfolded – she had sat at her daughter’s bedside for three full days,  and watched her life ebb away.  Her son-in-law had been arrested on  suspicion of murder. The attack had been gruesome and the injuries  horrendous. Months later, after the trial, shards of her skull were  returned to the family for burial.  
As  her story finished the presenter invited me to respond to the story. To  this day the rest of that interview is a blur, but I do know that, in  the intervening years, when I have been tempted to take short cuts or  become despondent  in our quest to tackle the scourge of domestic  violence and gender-based violence, Bridie’s words echo, tears well up  and I have the renewed resolve and determination to carry on. It is a  journey that no victim, no family should ever have to undertake.

Actions  speak louder than words, and whilst each action we take may appear a  drop in the ocean, the ocean gradually fills. As Christians there is no  room for complacency. It is God’s desire for each one of us to flourish  in His world, to spread His word and act in love.

Both  women and men, can be victims of domestic abuse.  Yet, statistics  confirm that there is a disproportionate level of abuse against women  with 1 in 3 women and girls worldwide expected to experience abuse in  their lifetime. The most violent domestic abuse is against women.  

God created human beings in his own image. Genesis 1:27

We  are equal in his sight, and as a body of people with Christian values  we can undertake to reverse the trends in domestic abuse. Together we  can reflect, converse and act, in tackling the societal and cultural  norms in our society, having conversations about mutual respect,  cultural attitudes, revisiting and helping to rebuild lives through  understanding and practical support.

We  started our journey seven years ago responding in prayer and  reflection.  Each year our actions have increased, and we have  established meaningful links within each diocese. We have a lot to be  thankful for, and we hope and pray that our journey through the 16 Days  with the 16 Days Prayer Diary at our side, will equip us with God’s good grace, inform us and empower us with each step to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

In 2020 there has been a huge increase in the incidence of reported domestic abuse across the island.

May the God of hope equip us with all we need to pursue justice through the power of Jesus Christ.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen

A reflection by Lesley Bayley

This article was written by Lesley earlier in the year but was kept over to include on the website at this stage as we enter into the time of year for "The Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence".

The last few months have been difficult for us all, but at last we are moving slowly towards the ‘new normal’ as lockdown restrictions are eased and people are able to get out and about more freely. For many the internet has played a major role during these weeks, including the Mothers’ Union, whose vital work has been able to continue throughout.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Zoom meeting with staff members from Mary Sumner House and fellow DP’s from Britain and Ireland. During the meeting there was a great deal of discussion about how Mothers’ Union should move forward post-lockdown, and how we can best help those in our communities and the wider world, focusing on three main issues: healing and rebuilding family relationships through the re-imagining of AFIA; responding to the immediate needs of children and families; and addressing domestic violence.

The last few months have been difficult for us all, but none more so than those living in a situation of domestic violence, from which there has been little or no escape.
As some members within my own diocese know I am survivor of domestic violence in a previous relationship, now thankfully living a good life with a man who loves me and cares for me.
I pray for every woman, man and child in our communities living in situations of domestic violence, that they may survive this already distressing time and that we as members of the Mothers’ Union may help them and uphold them in the coming weeks and months in whatever way we can.


The first time I was confronted with violence was on my honeymoon, when he threatened to kill me with a bread knife. This was a side I had never before seen during the four years I had known him and I was shocked into silence. After that my everyday life involved continuous verbal and physical abuse, food I had cooked thrown at the wall or in the bin, having household items thrown at me, being shouted at in public and generally being made to feel worthless. I accepted this was my life and could see no way out for eleven years.

It was while on holiday overseas that I made the decision to get out. An argument had started over nothing, after which I was completely ignored for two days. While it may have been a reprieve from the abuse it was abuse of another kind, and I felt even lonelier and more isolated than usual. I was in a strange country, I knew no-one there other than him, and now I was confined to a small room with someone whose mood was absolutely unfathomable.

Based on that experience I can only imagine how anyone living in a violent relationship over the last number of months must be feeling every day. Not knowing the mood to expect, the reaction it will bring, together with an even greater feeling of loneliness and isolation than normal.

I will finish with a prayer taken from the ‘Dear Lord’ book, written by Dr. Richard Appleton, a Central member of Mothers’ Union. It is from his prayer ‘A prayer for each day of the week’ – ‘Tuesday is for threat’ – although when living with domestic violence every day is a threat.

Tuesday is a threat: we live in a world that is full of threats – threats to our physical, emotional and spiritual lives; threats that can easily separate us from God. Lord, we pray for Christians in all places that the Holy Spirit will provide faith, strength, courage and peace in their daily lives. Amen.
Timetable of Services and Events

  • Click on the image below to access a Zoom Prayer Meeting which may be used during the Sixteen Days:



  • Service for the 16 Days of Activism Morning which will take place on the  Facebook Channel at 8.00am (GMT) on 25th November. It will be led by  Reverend Lucie Lunn.
  • Wednesday 25th ~ Webinar "Light in the Darkness". Click on the image for more details:



  • Marie  Mulholland of the West Cork Women Against Violence Project speaks to Hilary Dring about  the work they do and the challenges the team faces in light of  increasing numbers who need support. Go to the Cork Mothers' Union Facebook Page to see the video of this interview.


  • Mothers’ Union in Dublin & Glendalough will hold a Service of the  Word for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence on Sunday November 29 on YouTube. Click on the link below:


GLOBAL DAY ~ 5th December:
  • Online   Protest launches ~ 9am –   throughout MU social channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Online   “Cup of Tea for No More 1 in 3” ~ Join   us with a cup of tea as we take time out our day to reflect and pray for our   “No More 1 in 3 campaign” This will be followed by Midday Prayers - 11.30am   – Facebook Live and You Tube
  • No   More 1 in 3 Global Day Service ~ 8pm –   Facebook Live and You Tube
                         
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