(originally posted on Uniting Church Assembly website)
Uniting Church women and men were among tens of thousands of people who took to the streets across the nation on Monday 15th March calling for an end to violence against women. The March4Justice rallies took place in 40 cities and towns across Australia, with huge crowds swelling the capital cities.
The rallies called for justice and equality in Australian society and an end to the systems, attitudes and culture that allow sexual violence and harassment to continue.
UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer applauded the women and men who took part in the March4Justice rallies.
“The exceptional turnout at the March4Justice events show there is deep desire in Australia to see meaningful change and justice for women who have experienced violence,” said Dr Palmer.
“I am grateful for all those women who have had the courage to speak out about their experiences and for the passion for justice among those who took the time to march.”
“As the Uniting Church, and as followers of Jesus, we are called to name gender-based violence as a sin against God and a breach of the love, trust and care that Christ embodies and calls us to model.”
“All women should experience safety, respect and dignity and the fullness of life that God intends for us all.”
“We support all those calling for justice. Enough is enough.”
Organisers at the rally in Canberra presented a petition to Government with more than 135,000 Australians calling for independent investigations and greater accountability over gendered violence connected to Parliament House. (Brittany Higgins addressed the March4Justice rally in Canberra).
A large contingent from Tuggeranong Uniting Church joined about 5000 people at the protest outside Parliament House. Minister Rev Elizabeth Raine said women within the congregation felt very strongly about the issue and wanted to make their voices heard. “This is a justice issue and there is a gender equality issue that needs to be addressed,” said Elizabeth. “My congregation includes retired public servants who understand there is a toxic culture that makes women more vulnerable when reporting sexual assaults and harassment.”
Elizabeth described the atmosphere as energising. “It felt maybe we could do something, change might be possible.”
Rev Sandy Boyce joined the March4Justice event in Adelaide.
“It really was good to be able to join the thousands of men, women and children who turned out to stand in solidarity and to call for change. The speakers were inspiring and spoke truth to power to a very receptive crowd. I deliberately wore purple, a symbol of lament, and wearing my clerical collar gave witness to the fact that the Church is also concerned about the safety and well-being of women. To quote Cornel West, ‘Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public’.”