ANTI-VIOLENCE campaigner Joyce Watson AM hosted a candlelit service at St Davids Cathedral on International White Ribbon Day, Monday, November 25.
Over one hundred people came together in St Davids Cathedral to support the Light a Candle service, and many took the opportunity to sign the White Ribbon pledge. Sam Walsh of St Davids School read from the gospel of Matthew, then later helped Joyce Watson AM light candles in the shape of a white ribbon.
Mrs Watson said that in the last ten years there had been 12 homicides in the Dyfed Powys area, of which seven involved domestic abuse.
Chief Inspector Simon Prince said that, while Dyfed Powys is one of the safest parts of the UK, domestic abuse still happens too often, and he pledged the force to tackling it.
Organisations including the WI, Pembrokeshire’s Youth Offending and Prevention Service, St David’s School, St David’s City Council, Mothers’ Union, Pembrokeshire College and Merched y Wawr worked with Mrs Watson on the event.
The event was part of two weeks of Not in My Name campaign activity organised jointly by Mrs Watson and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) – Wales.
Not in My Name recruits male ambassadors to urge people to support a simple pledge: to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Men across Wales, from choirs to workplaces to sporting stars such as the Wales rugby squad, have signed up to this pledge.
Pembrokeshire-based Assembly Member Mrs Watson said: “I am grateful to St Davids Cathedral for agreeing to hold this service for the first time. We hold similar services in Llandaff and Brecon cathedrals, so I’ve been keen that people are able to come together in Pembrokeshire, particularly in our historic city, to mark an issue which affects so many.
“By signing the Not in My Name pledge and wearing a white ribbon, people send out a powerful message – that abuse in its many forms is never acceptable, should never be ignored and must never be excused.”
In Pembrokeshire in the past 12 months charitable housing association Hafan Cymru has provided refuge for 36 women and 35 children, and supported a further 11 women and 21 children to move on from their refuge.
Ann Sherwood of Hafan Cymru said: “In total Hafan Cymru supported over 2,500 individuals to escape abusive relationships across Wales last year. We strive to prevent abuse and promote independence. We cannot do this on our own, We need men to speak out and pledge never to commit or condone or remain silent through the White ribbon campaign.”
Ann Jones, Chair of NFWI Wales added: “It is unacceptable that violence against women persists in today’s society and that one in four women in Wales will experience domestic violence at the hands of a partner their lives. It is vital that men speak out to help create a culture change where violence against women is not tolerated.”
This year’s campaign is focused on younger women and girls, and is working with schools and colleges to help create a culture where violent behaviour towards women and girls is unacceptable.
People can get involved by signing White Ribbon posters, organising or attending events, and by sending messages of support.
Further details are available from Joyce Watson on www.joycewatson.org.uk/ 029 2089 8972, or the NFWIWaleshttp://www.thewi.org.uk/wiin-wales