Adventists Call for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children

CSW ATTENDEES: (From left) GC Children's Ministries director Linda Koh, Voice of Hope associate director of Marketing Viola Hughes, and Adventist Mission Marketing director Nancy Kyte were three of five Adventist women who attended the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.Source: Adventist Review

[May 7, 2007] Five Seventh-day Adventists were among thousands of women who voiced their concerns in deploring violence against women and the girl child at the United Nations’ fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held February 26–March 9.

Viola Poey Hughes, associate director of Marketing for the Hope Channel, led the Adventist delegation and said CSW experts “provided alarming statistics” on the conditions of women and the girl child.

“About 55 million girls are out of formal school and 82 million girls will marry by the age of 13,” reported Hughes. “A frightening two to three million live in sexual servitude and will never have access to basic human rights, while 218 million are child laborers.”

She added that “while policies and collaborative efforts were among items on the agenda, there remains a need for accountability at every level of government, home, society, and institution.”

Attending this event for the first time, Linda M.L. Koh, director of Children’s Ministries for the Adventist Church, spoke of the importance for the church to be involved in eradicating violence against women and children.

“As a church, we need to be more organized, specifically to minister to the victims of this problem at all levels,” Koh said. “In many parts of the world girls face harmful social and traditional practices, such as child brides, genital mutilation, and denial of an education.”

In the church’s statement to the CSW, Adventist Church officials stressed the importance of developing concrete and practical programs, such as literacy projects, more ministry involvement by women, and a four-level leadership training program—all developed by the General Conference Women’s Ministries Department.

“We have a strong conviction about freedom and responsibility, and the human rights of every person,” said Jonathan Gallagher, UN liaison for the Adventist church, who generated this year’s statement. “Our theology mandates our support of attempts to aid the oppressed and violated, to bring comfort and healing of God’s children.”

Nancy Kyte, director of marketing for Adventist Mission, was also a first-time attendee. “Statistics presented at the session boggled my mind,” Kyte said. “According to UN and US government reports, more than 12 million people around the world are being trafficked—are victims of modern-day slavery—for exploitation purposes at any given time. About 80 percent of them are women and girls. We need to consider what we can do to help the survivors of this kind of slavery.”

This year’s CSW drew more than 5,000 women worldwide and about 100 member states from countries such as Morocco, China, Indonesia, Romania, Italy, Ghana, Kenya, and Australia.

The two other Adventist participants were Deborah Rapp of the Carolina Conference and Yvonne Knight of the Greater New York Conference.