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Pope: Violence against women must be addressed through a joint effort

  • Religion

Meeting the staff of the Italian Central Anti-Crime Directorate, Pope Francis remembers the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, observed on 25 November, emphasizing the crucial importance of a joint effort by public institutions and all social actors not only in law enforcement, but also in prevention to eradicate this scourge.

By Lisa Zengarini

To counter violence against women public institutions and social actors need to network together, Pope Francis told members of an Italian law enforcement agency dealing with organised crime on Saturday. “We need to unite, collaborate, network: and not just a defensive network, but above all a preventive network”, the Pope said as he received the staff of the Central Anti-Crime Directorate (Direzione Centrale Anticrimine – DIA).

Addressing some 170 participants at the audience in the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis thanked the agency both for the work it carries out “with professional and human commitment”, and for asking to meet him one day after the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is observed annually on 25 November.

Women supporting other women

The Holy Father started by thanking the DIA for its daly  service to Italian society, noting there are many women working in the agency who are a “great resource” in helping and supporting women victims of gender violence, and can better understand them.

This, he said, requires a specific psychological training, but also a “spiritual” preparation, “because only at a deep level can one find and preserve the serenity and calm needed convey conficìdence  to the victims of brutal violence. The same inner strength which Jesus shows us in His Passion, and which He trasmitted to many Christian women, some of whom we venerate as martyrs”.

Victims of gender violence need an efficient judiciary system

Regarding the institutional responsibility of DIA, the Pope further highlighted the urgent need to improve the Italian judiciary system making it more efficient, so as to ensure that victims are granted timely justice and reparation, which is often not the case in Italy.

Prevention 

Pope Francis went on to speak about the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women which has been observed since 1981 to help eliminate and prevent violence against women and girls around the world , and to call  for global action to increase awareness. 

“This is always crucial when trying to eliminate a social scourge which is also linked to cultural attitudes, mentalities and deep-rooted prejudices”, the Pope noted. 

Domestic violence 

In this respect, he drew attention to the need to support families where gender violence often occurs and has further increased during the pandemic. DIA’s work, therefore, can be a “stimulus” for society as a whole to “react and act” against this scourge, he said. 

Media promoting false cultural models

The Pope further highlighted the responsibilities of the media, which indirectly contribute the gender violence by promoting “a hedonistic and consumerist culture, where models, both male and female, obey the criteria of success, self-assertion, competition, the power to attract the ‘other and dominate him”.

Placing the person at the centre

The only way to counteract these cultural models, is an education that places the person and his/her dignity at the centre.

Pope Francis cited the example of Saint Josephine Bakhita, who after being freed from slavery, accepted the Gospel of God’s love and became a witness of his liberating and healing power, alongside many other women, some of whom “ saints of next door” who “have been healed by the mercy and  tenderness of Christ, and with their lives  testify that that the love, closeness, and solidarity of our sisters and brothers can save us from slavery”-

This is why, the Pope concluded, schools, sports groups, oratories, associations must offer today’s girls and boys these stories of liberation and healing, “stories of women who have managed to get out of the tunnel of violence and can help open their eyes to the pitfalls, traps, dangers hidden behind false models of success”.

 

Source: Vatican News