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15 July 2015

Faith leaders unite to reject domestic violence

Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu leaders will send a strong message to perpetrators of domestic abuse within their own faiths when they gather at the House of Lords this evening to endorse a declaration that domestic abuse "can never be justified by the teachings of our faith".

This will be the first time different faith leaders have stood on the same platform to acknowledge there is a problem of domestic abuse within their own faith communities, and pledge to do something about it.

The House of Lords reception is organised by Restored, an organisation campaigning to end violence against women. At the 2014 General Synod, Restored spoke clearly that "if one-in-four women in the UK experience domestic abuse, then it must be happening in churches too". Their work has since been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Peter Grant, co-director of Restored, said: "Why is this declaration important? Because in all faiths in Britain right now domestic abuse is being committed unseen and unreported. What this declaration says to perpetrators of domestic violence is that we, as faith leaders, will not tolerate it, nor remain silent about it. But, recognising the unique and positive opportunities we have within our faith communities, we will challenge abusive patterns of behaviour, whether physical, sexual, psychological or spiritual, that have become too common within our faiths and wider society."

Evangelical Alliance director of communications, Chine Mbubaegbu, who will be attending the event later today at the House of Lords, said: "As evangelical Christians, we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being and must have a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence against women and men. We recognise that so often the Church has failed to speak up about this issue, but today's event is a rallying call for us to commit to ending this scourge that is taking place behind closed doors."

The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson said: "Violence against women is a human problem, not a specifically religious one. But faith leaders have the potential to be part of the problem or part of the solution. In signing this charter we are pledging to be part of the solution."

Abdullah Hasan, chief Imam at Holborn Mosque, said: "There are a number of misconceptions regarding domestic abuse and religion in our society. It is the duty of religious teachers to provide clarity and guidance on this issue as well as repel any incorrect beliefs and perceptions people may have about this growing problem."

Jasvir Singh, chair of City Sikhs said: "Domestic abuse affects men and women of all faiths and backgrounds, and its impact can be felt across the generations. There is much that faith institutions can do to challenge such behaviour and break that cycle of abuse. All people of faith have an active role to play in changing society for the better."

Read the Faith Leaders' Declaration on Domestic Abuse.
Read the idea magazine article exploring this issue and the Church.