Monday, 15 February 2010

Violence against women is not only a women's issue, men have to take on this issue if change is to happen and the violence is to stop

There were moving moments at the service this morning to launch "Cries of Anguish; Stories of Hope" the Lenten campaign to end violence against women. We stood to listen to the gospel story of the woman taken in adultery, read in Spanish. As we stood and listened and read the story or remembered it in our own languages we held in our hands the stones given to each person as they arrived. This proclamation of the gospel led in to a time of confession 'and we were invited to lay down the stones at the foot of the Coventry cross during the prayers and singing. All this happened naturally and in an organic way that I hadn't quite imagined as I wrote the liturgy. Somehow the liturgy, the work of the people, preached the gospel and it is special when that happens.

Nyambura Njoroge
shared reflections on violence, suicide and transformation, encouraging all of us to dare to follow models for transforming attitudes to violence agaisnt women offered through the Tamar Campaign and also through the challenging masculinities project in Africa.

WCC general secertary Olav Fykse Tveit introduced the service with a powerful statement saying that, "ecumenism is about being one, not only on doctrinal issues and questions of faith but also in the face of all that destroys human dignity. This sometimes requires facing painful and very uncomfortable realities, which include violence, and violence against women in particular"
"We cannot remain silent about this reality but we need to bear witness to what 'being one' can do to help transform relationships between men and women. This is quite obviously a particular responsibility of men. Here we have to be quite clear. Therefore, if we do not address this message to men and work together as men and women, there will be no transformation," stated Tveit, who quoted from a Norwegian Joint Muslim Christian statement – "Say No to Violence" – issued last November: "As Christians and Muslims we see women and men as equal and nobody has the right to use violence against the other. Violence in the family and in close relationships are criminal acts and against the convictions of our beliefs. We believe that there is inspiration and guidance in our religions for life in love and mutual respect."

At the end of the service I was pleased that many people said, next time we must involve more men in services like this, we cannot let this be seen as only a women's issue. Meanwhile there are still mainly women supporting the campaign on Facebook. It takes time to change attitudes.
All of us of us are waiting for transformation.
You can find the liturgy here.


Sidney said...

So how does the redistribution of power take place? Is it given by men -- or claimed by women?

Jane said...

In the end in a human community of men and women power has to be both given and claimed. It's a sad truth that sexual violence is seen as a "women's issue" - somehow women have to "claim" that men have to take this seriously and change ...