Monday, November 24, 2008

16 days of repentance from our violence against women and children


We, the churches are guilty in the violence against women and children. We keep silent and we silence those that cry in pain, to keep the peace. In the mean time one in three women are stripped of their dignity and the rest of us, the priest and Levites of this world, look the other way. We simply don’t want to get involved.

Yes, of course we make statements. The church that I belong to, URCSA, actually the men attending our General Synod in 2005, said, ‘We confess that, instead of treating you as equal image bearers of the living God, we often pushed you into second-class citizenship in the household of God. We confess that, instead of treating you as equal fellow-disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, for a long time we went alone to study theology and to appoint church-leaders. We confess that, instead of treating you as equal witnesses to Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we silenced you in the church and resisted the work of the Holy Spirit, who has given you so many gifts for ministry to build up the temple of the Holy Spirit.’ The question is however, what have we done to make amends, to redress this injustice?

In the South African context, the Kopanong Declaration can help to give body to our statements. Forging networks with gender justice movements, in ensuring empowerment and equality, is critical. I would however also want to contextualise this campaign by reminding us all of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions!) of women and children, who are displaced and slaughtered by a bloody mineral war in Congo (Kinshasa) and the utter mad-ness that is going on in Zimbabwe, under the approving eye of our politicians. Many flee starvation, by entering fortress Europe or South Africa, only to be caged in ‘refugee camps’ for months, some years, without hope of gaining papers to work of stay there. Further, whilst we abhor the frightening levels of rape and violence against women and girls, we need to focus our attention on politicians and leaders and their actions and policies, who continue to maintain sexist and patriarchal practices, which in reality creates the environment for these evil deeds to flourish. (How can faith communities and all people of conscience, forget the kind of crude patriarchal and archaic mentality of the current president of the African National Congress on sexuality, women and the role of a man, revealed in his perpetual court battles a year or so ago!)

Anyway, we have to make sure that we do get involve, that we keep on to raise our voices, march or pray against violence, in particular violence meted out against women and children. But most importantly, like the men of this one church said in 2005, ‘we (have to) commit to make restitution for this wrong….’
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