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Until when? Violence against women

August 18, 2006

Until when? Violence against women

Rev. Sergio Andrade, CSAAP Co-ordinator, Diaconia Brazil)

It is not always possible to hide reality. Violence on women continues openly unabated in Brazilian society. At home, on the streets, at work and in public places, women are forgotten, banned, disrespected, humiliated and violated every day. Violence on women is defined in the United Nations Declaration for the Elimination of Violence on Women (1993) as “any violent act whatsoever, based on gender, which results in death, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to a woman, including threats of this type of violence, coercion or the privation of liberty, whether in the public or private sphere”.

In the State of Pernambuco, differently from the historical characteristics found in society as a whole, women experience violence as an expression of the educational, cultural and social formation, or rather deformation, that sets men up, in a natural manner, as agents of superiority, with power and control over women. Women in Pernambuco , according to figures from the NGO SOS CORPO, are countless times victims of unknown men. They are frequently attacked in public and murdered by various male groups.

Various sectors of society, directly or indirectly contribute to this scenario, aggravating the situation, opting for silence or for the practice of passive peacemaking, when the woman is induced to ”be submissive and to say nothing”. Such people favour the perpetuation of this situation of human disrespect and degradation of the women’s physical, mental and spiritual health.

On looking at the life of Jesus we find a man who chose other roads. In a society modelled on masculine values and consequently on rejecting women, expressed in all kinds of violence, including moralist and religious, He opted for presenting new referrals in theory and in practice. Jesus chose dialogue, as shown in the meeting with the Samaritan woman. He cultivated respect, so clearly present in his relationship to his mother. He had a passion for inclusion, as is evident in the incident where he cured the woman who had been haemorrhaging for twelve years. He announced equality, evidenced by the presence of various women in his ministry.

The Christian Churches need to take an active part in this audacious, important and urgent mental transformation/conversion movement. To this end, in an educational and practical manner, boys and girls from an early age should be sensitised against the practice of violence and its negative results on the whole of society; should read the Bible with the eyes of Jesus and accept that men are not superior to women, nor do they have dominion over or own women, but rather see themselves as companions and friends in building up relationships of trust and mutual concern; should encourage co-operation among the genders, in detriment to soul-destroying and marginalising competition; should teach their pastoral leaders how to commit themselves to a liberating and dignifying practice, avoiding all forms of covering up and colluding with the practice of violence and finally should form new opinions on the issue so that individuals, families and communities become aware of the situation and overcome their fear, shame and pain in searching for a new way of living.

That there may be peace and life on earth between women and men… forever!