Disciples News Service

Disciples Women inspired by Woman-to-Woman trip

2015DNS-DWRed Scarf chair

When the Woman-to-Woman Worldwide delegation of 2014 met with the Federation of Evangelical Women in Italy, (FDEI) they explained that they, too, are struggling with the number of women who die of all forms of violence and that the numbers in Italy are growing. In 2013, 179 women were killed in Italy due to violence. This is the highest rate in the previous seven years. The number is 14 percent higher than the previous year and equal to one victim every other day. The Protestant women are participating in a campaign to call attention to this issue.  These Italian women of faith explained to us how they stand in solidarity with victims of violence, specifically women who have died from violence of all kinds.

Violence against women is an ongoing global issue that includes domestic violence, sexual assault, incest, murder, female infanticide, genital mutilation, dowry death, sexual harassment, discrimination, sex trafficking, abuse, etc. and other less obvious forms like poverty, famine and lack of education. Violence against women is one part of a global human rights issue.

Unfortunately this violence often leads to death. One out of every three women will be abused in their lifetime. UN Women reports that it is difficult to determine real numbers of violence against women because they suspect that less than 14% of women report their most serious abuse to police. Many forms of violence do not have systems where the violence can be reported and in some cultures some forms of abuse are accepted.

The Italian women drape red scarf on a chair at the table (both at meetings and meals) to remember those women who had died due to violence. This campaign is called Posto Occupato (this seat is taken). 

This concrete gesture is dedicated to all women victims of violence. Each of those women, before a husband, an ex, a lover, or a stranger decided to end her life, occupied a place in the theater, on the train, at school, on the subway, in a meeting, at a meal, in society. The draped red scarf is a place reserved for those killed so we will not forget them.

Disciples Women will be observing this campaign at GA 2015. During women’s events, chairs will be in place with red scarves there to observe those victims of violence who might have been there among us.

One of these forms of violence is human trafficking which Disciples Women has been focusing on for several years now. Human trafficking is violence against women, men and children. Like other violence the numbers associated with human trafficking are difficult to calculate but estimated numbers say that another person becomes a victim of human trafficking ‘every 30 seconds.’ Disciples Women will also be emphasizing the size of this crime and the number of people affected by it at GA 2015 with shirts, cards, stickers, and wristbands reminding those gathered that ‘Every 30 seconds….another person becomes a victim of human trafficking.’ While we see progress being made in laws and awareness we have a long way to go and still discover that there are people who are unaware of the immensity of modern day slavery.

At GA2015 Disciples Women will be sharing information on Posto Occupato, the extent of human trafficking, and the impact of flawed immigration laws that lead to separation of families. If you want more information about trafficking and violence the justice track has workshops:

“Yes, In My Backyard” which is the recognition that modern day slavery is a problem around the world and in every state in the United States and throughout Canada. The hard truth is that there are people who are victims of trafficking sitting in our pews on Sunday morning who feel they have no other choice or do not know how to help themselves. Together we will discover the extent of trafficking and offer solutions to combat it whether it is labor trafficking, sex trafficking or the continued demand for human slaves.

“Would You Tell Your Pastor?” is for pastors and lay leaders to get tools to create safe sanctuaries for adults as well as children to make our congregations healthier and more secure. We will explore how our use of language about each other can create an unsafe atmosphere, how counseling can create a protected and safe space or how it might add to pain and vulnerability, and how we can care for one another to create a true haven of shelter.

There will also be a workshop and project on human trafficking offered for the Youth. Disciples Women is also supporting the Youth project of crocheting plastic mats for people who are homeless. If you have plastic bags to donate, or if you want to make ‘plarn’, or if you would like to help support the Youth during their mission response times, contact Bev Ledwon at Disciples Women.

If you want to share more information about these justice issues or if you have questions, the members of the Disciples Women Executive Committee will be available at the booth.