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Violence against women

Jesus left an established model only for those who are brave, be it men or women. A model for people who are not ready to fall into social trends propelled by discrimination or frustration.

SOURCES Protestante Digital AUTHOR Francisco Sanchez, Evangelical Focus MADRID 25 NOVEMBER 2015 09:26 h GMT+1
woman, violence, un, day Photo: Micah H (Unsplash, CC)

Sixteen years ago the United Nations declared the 25th November as the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women”. The date was selected to honour the three Maribal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic. They were brutally assassinated by the former president Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).



Far from disappearing, physical, sexual, psychological and financial violence against women is still affecting families and communities in the whole world. According to UN reports, the worst situation is to be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, more than 1,100 sexual violations are denounced every month. It is believed that more than 200,000 women have suffered sexual violence since the beginning of the armed conflict.



Do we, Christians, have something to say about all this?



Another great problem on a global scale related to the violence against women is human trafficking. Between 500,000 and 2,000,000 people are estimated to be trafficked every year. These people suffer sexual abuse, prostitution, forced labour, servitude or slavery. What can the Church do facing this disaster?



In the United States, the cost of domestic violence is calculated to be around 5,800 million dollars every year. A 2004 study in the United Kingdom shows that direct and indirect costs of domestic violence are some 23,000 million Pounds (440 Pounds per person). Is it important to talk about this human catastrophe in our circles (family, church, etc)?



In Spain, 41 women have already died in 2015 after suffering gender violence. Sixteen were foreigners living in the country. Most victims are between 21 and 50 years old. This sad reality has left 39 orphans.



Henry J. M. Nouwen, author of The Wounded Healer, said a distinctive characteristic of the next generation will be the absence of parents. This doesn’t mean children will have no biological parents, but these will generally not be a model and reference for their sons and daughters anymore.



Right now, there are 6,168 people in Spanish prisons sentenced for gender violence cases. Between 2007 and 2015, there have been 537,849 emergency calls in Spain related to this kind of violence. Where does all this evil come from?



 



JESUS, THE MODEL TO FOLLOW



Author Herbert Lockyer says women in general have a greater capacity to bear mistreatment, pain and separation. Historically, man has treated women as if they were inferior beings. It is a consequence of his pride, ignorance and moral perversion, says Lockyer. But “with the coming of Christ, a new era emerged for women, and wherever he is exalted, women receive their share.” So, could the solution be found here?



Did Jesus leave a model to follow? Personally, I think he did. Jesus judges men and women equally, without distinction. Does our justice system do the same? Theologian Carmen Bernabé Urbieta speaks about Jesus’ exemplary attitude emphasising the fact that Jesus breaks the taboos of his time and develops a deep friendship with Martha and Mary, and publicly dialogues with a Samaritan woman, although he knew Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Do we dialogue openly with those cultures and religions that our opposed to us?



In the gospels we can see he never disregarded women and he fought against the injustices of his time, defending women, even under the sexist gazes of many. A prostitute washed his feet, but it did not matter to him. So it should be no surprise for us that there were many women amongst his followers.



Theologian Ana Cristiana Villa Betancourt says that while approaching women, Jesus shows an enthusiastic reflection about the truth. He has a capacity to embrace others, anticipating a generous answer.



Ultimately, Jesus does not dignify the woman because he understands that she is already worthy, not because of her own merits but because she is a human being, a creation of God. From this position, Jesus always acts creatively in his behaviour with human beings, and especially, with women.



When a group of religious people are about to stone a woman who had committed adultery, Jesus steps forward and puts himself between them. He does not threaten the men, he does not shout. He just bends down and thinks, writing in the sand.  And he helps them think through the art of dialogue: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Do we react like Jesus? Do we question where the accusations come from? Or do we just let unfair traditions drive all our actions?



The pain produced by the death of many women has generated hate and resentment in many people. These, instead of holding fast to a model which avoids the same mistakes of chauvinism, bring forward a radical feminism. In this sense, the well-known author Doris Lessing said she was disconcerted by the automatic disdain many women felt when confronting men.



Is a woman stronger because she humiliates men? No. Neither are men more masculine when they degrade women. Psychiatrist August Curry said: “We are a unique and intelligent species, but tragically we divide, discriminate and exclude others.”



Jesus left an established model only for those who are brave, be it men or women. A model for people who are not ready to fall into social trends propelled by discrimination or frustration.


 

 


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