PWR | DECLARATION | Standing With Victim-Survivors of Sexualized Violence

[Edited extract from public address]

Let us be committed and united together against sexual violence and discrimination, wherever it may be.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Women’s Task Force calls upon religious traditions and spiritual communities to stand up and address sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment that is occurring within religious contexts and throughout mainstream society.

We as people of faith and conscience are called upon to hear and believe the experiences of victim-survivors who are speaking up in every sector of society, and across all cultures, and to do our utmost to challenge and confront the cultures and systems that promote and enable this abuse of power.

Our commitments to stopping sexualized and gender-based violence are outlined in the Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women, delivered at the historic Inaugural Women’s Assembly at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions. We invite our human family and especially those in positions of leadership and power to join us in affirming to:
  • call upon all religious leaders and adherents to challenge and change harmful teachings and practices that justify discrimination and violence against women and girls
  • call upon the world’s religions to honor and uphold the dignity, well-being, and fundamental human rights of women and girls.
  • commit ourselves to this collective undertaking to heal the heart of our humanity by releasing women, girls, men and boys from the bondage of gender-based discrimination and violence. We do so with hope and with faith in our future.
We stand with all who have shared their most personal testimony of this no-longer-unspeakable truth. And to those who are still yet unable to share their experiences, especially within religious institutions, for fear of retribution or threats to their personal safety: we see you and support you.

We call upon all religious and spiritual traditions and the interfaith movement to join with the Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions as we continue to do our utmost to break the chains of silence by strengthening, implementing and enforcing policies and practices that will transform us into a better, more decent and just society. We also give our gratitude to the agencies that have already taken action to demonstrate that sexualized violence and harassment will no longer be tolerated within their institutions.

Religious and spiritual communities, though complicit participants in a global culture of sexual violence, can and should draw from each of their divine and sacred inspirations the courage that is required now to end this cycle.

Victims-survivors of violence and abuse—sexual, physical and emotional— in spiritual or religious communities (as well as in the home or the workplace) have shown courage in raising their voices.

The time is now for us all to be courageous.

From the Staff of the Parliament of the World's Religions
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