Sunday, 13 April 2014

Sexual violence in Africa

This week’s Church Times carries a special report compiled by Tim Wyatt on sexual violence in Africa: First the rape. Then the stigma. Now the healing?

DARFUR.

“One of the Janjaweed pushed me to the ground. He forced my clothes off, and they raped me, one by one. I did not have any energy or force against them.

“They used me. I started bleeding. It was so painful. I could not stand up… I was sick for seven days.”

This is the harrowing testimony of a 13-year-old girl from western Sudan. It is not an isolated incident. Starting in 2003, the government-backed Janjaweed militia terrorised locals across the region in what appeared to be a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the non-Arab population.

From the beginning, rape was used alongside guns and machetes as a weapon of war…

The main report is available to all, but subscribers can also read the Revd Dr Nyambura Njoroge writing on the gender debate in Africa Teaching men all about women and this leader comment Sexual violence.

The report mentions the efforts of several organisations working with the victims of rape, and who are attempting to change the culture and circumstances that contribute to sexual violence. Here are some relevant websites.

Restored - Ending Violence Against Women
We Will Speak Out
Christian Aid
Mothers of Congo
Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict
Silent No More - Tearfund report
Created in God’s Image - World Council of Churches and World Communion of Reformed Churches report

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 2:14pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

I shudder to think that perhaps the ABC thinks that *this obscenity* is the fault of marrying-gays too?

*

Prayers and more prayers for the victims---what can we (outside of Africa) do to help?

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 10:23pm BST

I'm glad to see this get covered. The data show that wherever there is greater equality for women (not likely achievable in such a violent climate), there is greater prosperity. It would be great to see the "world wide Anglican communion" put much more attention on this.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 11:19pm BST

Benedict, if it weren't for women, slaves and black people showing similar disregard for ecclesiastical and cultural mores of the day, nothing would ever change. And make no mistake, in the fusty cloisters of Anglican hierarchy such challenges are the only hope of progress.

Posted by: Andrew Wilshere on Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 11:56pm BST

"Benedict, if it weren't for women, ... such challenges are the only hope of progress." Posted by: Andrew Wilshere on Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 11:56pm BST

While I agree with the comment, methinks it is posted on the wrong thread.

Posted by: RPNewark on Monday, 14 April 2014 at 9:56am BST

You can't have it both ways, Cynthia. Either the "world-wide Anglican Communion" (the scare-quotes are yours, the hyphen mine) exists or it doesn't. If it does exist then we might legitimately hope that it could be a powerful instrument to effect change and reconciliation in Africa. If it is just a figment of our collective imagination, however, then we may as well all just go back to holding cake-stalls and jumble-sales for the church roof fund. In that case, of course, do precisely what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. But if we do continue to believe in a global catholic church, then we have some responsibilities to one another. Responsibilities that run both ways, naturally.

I agree that this is exactly the kind of problem that the "WWAC" should be preoccupied with. But you can't say that if with the next breath you want to deny the very existence or legitimacy of such a body.

Incidentally, I wonder which way the causal chain runs between economic prosperity and equality for women. That's always assuming that you overlook quite poor countries that are relatively equal in many respects (like Rwanda) and relatively rich nations that are very unequal (like Saudi Arabia). But 'equality' is a pretty difficult variable to measure anyway, and there are so many other factors at play that I wonder if such generalisations are useful. And anyway, a case for gender equality should not have to rest on phantasmagorical promises of economic prosperity.

Posted by: rjb on Monday, 14 April 2014 at 12:08pm BST

rjb, what are you on about? I don't recall denying that there is a "WWAC," I simply believe that the provinces are more loosely associated than the ABC wants to believe. I.e., we are all part of the Body of Christ, but I don't recognize any human or particular province as the head. It's in quotes because I don't want to be confused for using it the way the ABC does.

The best thing we can do as a "WWAC" is band together on justice issues, compassion, and mercy. We do that rather well in some areas. Recently, there was another UN meeting on the status of women and there was a strong Anglican presence. There are Anglican church programs working on it, TEC has some effective ones.

As for the equality = prosperity equation, take that up with the UN and international organizations that study these things. It's their factoid and I'm sure they would be happy to show you their data.

In many parts of the world when women get profitable work, say through micro loans, it lifts their entire families. This is true in Haiti where I do work. Don't ask me why work opportunities for men don't seem to have the same positive impact as those specific to women. I don't know. I just know that where there are programs, like micro loans, it lifts the socio-economic condition of the people in the region.

I've read the factoid, and I'm a witness to its impact in one Developing Country.

I'm curious about your claim of relative gender equality in Rwanda, when I received reports of rape and whatnot… But it isn't my area.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 14 April 2014 at 6:10pm BST
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