Letters - 15 June 2018

From violence against women to grammar

Violence against women

How exciting to read Joel C Wallenberg’s article (1 June). It reiterated a concern adopted recently by West Scotland Area Meeting to raise the issue of violence against women.

In the West of Scotland we participated in the sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence campaign in 2017, which ran from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day). Seeking to inform, we had three talks: ‘Female Genital Mutilation’, ‘Underage Marriage’ and ‘Women and Power’. We held a workshop with the Alternatives to Violence Project and two vigils of Thursdays in Black (Churches’ Advocacy against Sexual, Gender-Based Violence supported by the World Council of Churches).

We are also working with Side By Side, a faith movement for gender justice initiated by Christian Aid. This was supported with a meeting at Holyrood with five members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs). A touring exhibition has the stories of sixteen women, eight from the UK and eight from all over the world. Through these groups we have access to all the Christian women’s organisations in Scotland and are developing contacts with other faith groups, including Sikh and Muslim.

We encouraged the men in our Meetings to wear the white ribbons – as in the White Ribbon Campaign of men against violence against women. Through our LGBTI Friends we have learned to include not just women. Our hope was to have enough white-haired old women (‘Raging Grannies’) to hand out white ribbons outside football matches – there are few volunteers as yet.

We welcome Joel’s article, especially bringing this hidden aspect of violence within the Peace Testimony.

Kate Arnot, Mary Kennedy, Margaret Roy, Clare Phillips

Charities and policies

I was distressed by the letter headlined ‘Charity’ (1 June) on a number of counts and as I was already considering whether to continue my long-time subscription to the Friend it almost tipped me over into cancelling it (I haven’t yet done so).

The attitude of some Friends that Quakers give more than others to charities is, I think, arrogant and holier than thou. The fear of some charities that they will be criticised for spending too much on administration and salaries can, perhaps, lead them not to spend enough and therefore be less efficient. A friend working for Oxfam remarked: ‘I wish they spent more and we would get the job done better.’

Clearly, the Friend writing the letter has a bee in his bonnet about overpopulation. How does he imagine someone living in fear, famine and probably in flight is going to access birth control?

Christian Aid is one of the few charities still working in the South Sudan and it employs local people to do their work as part of their policy.

Susan Sawtell

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