Open Doors is delighted to announce that an installation of the handmade petition will be held at Westminster Abbey this November. The installation highlights the double vulnerability of women who are persecuted for both their faith and their gender.
This year, we’ve been asking you to sign the handmade petition, saying “I see you” to these women, whose suffering often goes unseen. Thank you! More than 13,000 Open Doors supporters have written, painted, drawn or embroidered their names in this unique petition, along with over 250 Christian women from across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America who have been persecuted for both their faith and gender.
Time for policy change
The Handmade Petition: I See You will be open to the public in Westminster Abbey from 17-24 November, during the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) conference. The installation has been created to amplify the voices of persecuted Christian women during the PSVI conference and to demonstrate to the UK Government and parliamentarians the vital need for policy change.
In many countries, the persecution of faith and sexual violence in conflict are inextricably linked. Open Doors believes that this needs to be recognised in official policy, alongside other vulnerabilities such as age and disability.
The 10,784 squares of fabric will be sewn together into a series of two-metre banners that will hang in Westminster Abbey’s Chapter House. The installation will give people a visual opportunity to hear these women’s stories and understand the characteristics of gender-specific persecution.
“Vital that the stories are heard”
Open Doors CEO, Henrietta Blyth, said, “The fact that women are doubly vulnerable to persecution because of both their faith and gender is horrific. The horror is compounded by the fact that what is happening to these women is largely unnoticed and unrecognised.
“I am very pleased to announce Open Doors’ The Handmade Petition: I See You art installation in Westminster Abbey. It is vital that the stories of persecuted women are heard and that the UK Government recognise that in order to address sexual violence in conflict, faith must be recognised as a specific vulnerability alongside others such as age and gender.
“We are so thankful for every supporter who has signed a square of fabric and taken part in this petition and we are also extremely grateful to Westminster Abbey for hosting this installation and helping Open Doors to speak up for persecuted women.”
Tears of Gold
In addition, the installation will display portraits and self-portraits of Nigerian women who have experienced persecution for both their faith and gender. The portraits are by Hannah Rose Thomas, a British artist who, facilitated by Open Doors, visited northern Nigeria to run art therapy sessions for Nigerian women who have been victim to sexual violence by Boko Haram or Fulani militants. Many of the women painted themselves with ‘tears of gold’. Each portrait will be accompanied by the women’s story; on our site you can read their stories, and order resources to pray, learn and share about these courageous women.
We’d love you to visit the exhibition and see all the petitions together. Whether or not you can go, please pray that the installation will have a significant impact: on those who see it, on MPs at the PSVI conference and ultimately on behalf of our vulnerable sisters around the world.
The handmade petition will hang in Chapter House, Westminster Abbey, 17-24 November 2019. It is open to the public and free if accessed via the Cloister Entrance.