Given recent discussions and posts, I think it apropos to have a post about the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
which falls on Nov. 25 each year. General polls across America show that the public believes that domestic abuse is a serious problem and that doesn’t even refer to the horrors the women who are sold into the sex trade have to face. Around the world, women not only face ideological sexism, but violence in all its forms. Physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual violence continue to plague women.
But where in the church do we hear much about this? Recently as I took Emma to the pediatricians I saw in the bathroom a sign about domestic abuse asking if one is afraid of someone they love. I realized that it had only been in medical situations (the pediatricians, my ob/gyn, the maternity ward) where I had ever encountered that question before. Unlike a majority of the women I regularly hang out with, I have never had to deal with abuse, but it shocked me that it has only been in “secular” medical settings that the topic has ever even come up. I can’t recall ever having heard violence against women addressed in church (besides us bringing up the sex trade with the youth group). Shouldn’t the church be leading the cause to stop oppression and violence? Shouldn’t caring for the unfortunate and showing love be a huge concern for all of us?
I have to wonder if the sexist assumptions that still haunt parts of the church (as has been demonstrated so clearly recently) has something to do with the church’s inaction in speaking out against violence against women. If women are inferior and are to submit to men, that can easily be translated into the idea that men can therefore do whatever they want to women. No matter what the theological assumptions of men being a loving, protective covering for women, it still places men in a position of power over women. Hierarchy often has the unfortunate side effect of allowing those in power to manipulate, harm, oppress, dominate, and humiliate those “below” them.
But fortunately there are some religious voices that are speaking out against the violence even if the circles I had run in haven’t always talked about it. On April 5, 2006 forty-two national religious leaders from around the country declared violence against women as intolerable and pledged their commitment to its eradication. The National Declaration by Religious Leaders to Address Violence Against Women will be distributed to every battered women's program in the U.S. Women will see this list and determine whether their faith community supports them in seeking safety for themselves and their children. When people of faith join with other community leaders to address domestic violence, we will see ancient roadblocks turn into resources that save lives and bring healing.
The Declaration -
We proclaim with one voice as national spiritual and religious leaders that violence against women exists in all communities, including our own, and is morally, spiritually and universally intolerable.
We acknowledge that our sacred texts, traditions and values have too often been misused to perpetuate and condone abuse.
We commit ourselves to working toward the day when all women will be safe and abuse will be no more.
We draw upon our healing texts and practices to help make our families and societies whole.
Our religious and spiritual traditions compel us to work for justice and the eradication of violence against women.
We call upon people of all religious and spiritual traditions to join us.
To find out more or to sign the Declaration click here
. Join your voice in prayer and action this Nov. 25 to help stop the violence against women.
Labels: Gender Issues, Politics, Social Justice