CARDIFF’s annual Light a Candle event in aid of White Ribbon Day has been described as “a call to action” by Wales’ first national adviser for Violence against Women.
The event in Llandaff last Friday was held to mark the international day for the elimination of violence against women which starts 16 days of activism across the world.
For the 10th year running, supporters marched through Llandaff holding placards and chanting.
At the cathedral guests including Lord Mayor of Cardiff Monica Walsh lit candles to commemorate women who have suffered gender-based violence and listened to speakers.
Alimatu Dimonekene, a survivor of female genital mutilation and founder of ProjectACEi, a group standing against FGM, said: “It stays with its victims for a lifetime. Today I want to be known as a victim. I want my words to be echoed around this cathedral.”
Ms Dimonekene was supported for many years by Bawso,a group helping black and minority ethnic women and children in Cardiff. It organised the Light a Candle event.
“I lived in London but I would rather phone Bawso in Cardiff because I didn’t want people who are so close to me knowing I was accessing services,” said Alimatu.
“They were always there to lend an ear. They did it all without judging us, without pushing us away, without making this too political or, let’s say, making it an ‘other’ migrant or refugee issue. It was a Cardiff issue.
“I am committed to empowering women because I have been empowered, and because I have been liberated.”
All faiths were represented. Canon Graham Holcombe announced at the beginning of the ceremony: “We are here to publicly condemn violence against women.”
Rhian Bowen-Davies, Wales’s national advisor for violence against women, said: “This is an epidemic that permeates our society, it knows no boundaries and we have to work together to eliminate that long term.
“When I hear survivors speak about their experiences, it absolutely reinforces the work we are doing in Wales and why we are doing it.”
Guest, AM Carl Sargeant said: “This is one day in the calendar which is significant to recognise the White Ribbon campaign, but actually this should be a message for every day.”
As a child he was traumatised by seeing his friend’s father beat his mother in the street in a community he said had a “huge amount of dysfunctionality” caused by mass unemployment.
“It scarred me for life,” he said. “We need to recognise there is a fundamental crisis of domestic violence, and issues around that, that we have to address.”
Women’s Equality Party member, Sarah Rees, said: “I don’t think we are doing enough at the moment. FGM is happening to women and girls here in Wales and it is something we have to talk about because if we don’t then no one else will.”
— Stefany Iova (@stefanyiova) November 25, 2016