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CofE bishops lead campaign against gender violence

More than 60 Church of England bishops around the country are wearing a white ribbon today to support a campaign dedicated to rooting out gender-based violence. 

Many of the bishops have been visiting local projects and taking to Twitter to raise awareness during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

To mark the day, Rt Revd Andrew Watson, chair of the Panel for World Mission and the Anglican Communion, visited Birmingham and Solihull Women's Aid, where he met and talked with victims of abuse and those who support them. He also spoke this weekend at a celebration event for the charity Asha, which for 25 years has been empowering women to make a difference to their lives and communities in the slums of Delhi.

Bishop Andrew says he was delighted that so many bishops have got involved in the White Ribbon Campaign:

The campaign, originally started by a group of men, is being supported by a number of Christian organisations in this field including the the Mothers' Union.  Spokeswoman Rachel Aston told Premier's Des Bustted during the News Hour that abuse can take many forms.

Figures show more than one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, according to a report earlier this year by the World Health Organization.

It said 38% of all women murdered were killed by their partners, and such violence is a major contributor to depression and other health problems.

Victims are also more likely to have alcohol problems, abortions and acquire sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

The document added that "fear of stigma" prevents many women from reporting sexual violence. It also stressed that health officials around the world need to take the issue "more seriously", providing better training for health workers in recognising when women may be at risk of violence and ensuring an appropriate response. Meanwhile, anyone living in England and Wales can now check if their partner has a history of domestic violence.

The scheme's called Clare's Law - named after a woman who was murdered in 2009 by an ex who had a history of violent abuse. 

The law's being extended after a test in some areas.

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