The Archbishop of Canterbury has changed his route back from India, so that he may pray with and give encouragement to the President of Nigeria as he works to rescue the 200 girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists. The Archbishop’s arrival in the Indian sub-continent was marked by the dreadful stoning to death of Farzana Parveen by her own family outside a courtroom in Lahore because she had, allegedly, brought disgrace on them by marrying for love against their will. And, while the Archbishop has been on his overseas tour, the world has been shocked by the sentence passed on Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan for holding to her Christian faith against Muslim pressure. The sentence is 100 lashes when she has recovered from the birth of her baby and death by hanging when her baby is two years old.
Such violence against women, for any cause, let alone in the name of religion, is appalling. Some diplomatic efforts are best made behind the scenes, and no doubt are being, but public witness is important too. Last November I responded to a call to wear a white ribbon for a while in solidarity with men against violence to women. If I needed reminding why that is important, the events of the last two weeks would be that reminder, though I am conscious too that much violence against women is, more hidden, in our society too. Shouldn’t each person, man or woman, look for ways to work to end such horrifying abuse?
The Right Reverend Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester