Wednesday, 25 November 2009

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women

I woke this morning to news that the Britsh government was putting in place educational programmes on violence against women and girls.
I read a good interview with my colleague Nyambura Njoroge about violence against women in the context of her work on HIV with the churches in Africa.

She recalls the sneers she received in Harare, Zimbabwe, at the 1992 All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) Assembly, when she used the case of Pia Njoki, the woman blinded by her husband in a fit of rage so she wouldn’t see other men. She was accused of washing dirty linen in public.
"We had all cried for Pia. When I wrote my doctoral dissertation, the issue of domestic violence had come up. So what was the dirty linen that I was washing at the Assembly?" she asks.
She was the first Kenyan woman to research and document the contributions of the pioneering Presbyterian Church women who stood up against female genital mutilation in 1928 and later, highlighted the rape of students at St Kizito High School.
"Newspapers are good at covering these issues, but what do we do with those reports to change our society for the better?" she asks.
Not many women realise that sexist, patriarchal traditions, practices and beliefs remain in the church and society. And women’s response to them, even in Church ministry, has been shaped through the eyes of men. Speaking out to offer an alternative perspective then makes one the odd one out and is frowned upon.

I spoke with colleagues about the ongoing power of patriarchy in many international structures.
I learnt about the brilliant idea called circles of names from the NCCUSA. Women not as victims but as role models.
My husband wrote an article today that began:
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu has joined a "Network of Men Leaders" set up by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to combat violence against women.
"You are a weak man if you use your physical superiority to assault and brutalise women," said Tutu in a U.N. video clip to mark the launch of the network for the 10th anniversary on 25 November of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

So what have you been learning on this day, exactly one month before Christmas, a season which in many parts of the world sees a big rise in reports of "domestic violence". Maybe you think it's just political correctness and the situation is not so bad. Of course that's the problem, because it's "domestic" it's hidden, "we shouldn't judge what goes on inside a marriage" which of course is an easy way of siding with injustice in such situations.
In the same way we shrug our shoulders at stories of women raped as part of war and conflict. Margot Kässmann has also come out today and stressed how unacceptable this is. So is anyone listening, have you begun to change the way you behave, are you encouraging men you know to join the white ribbon campaign or ist all a bit too embarassing and "domestic" to mention in polite company?

1 Comment:

Hannah Thomas said...

I know I encourage all the people I know! lol!

Its true people don't wish to talk about it - esplly within the houses of faith. That is what I found anyway. People have no idea.