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Violence against women is sin: God of life, accompany us on our journey toward a world free of violence.

For 2013 we have an assembly theme that invokes our total dependence on the God of Life! It is framed as a prayer to prepare us for a new phase in the work of the World Council of Churches: "God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace." It is appropriate that we turn once again to God to accompany us as we renew our ecumenical commitments and continue on the path of seeking unity as divided churches, living and testifying in a divided and fragile world. A simple but compelling assembly theme urges us on, as we discern our common mission agenda and engagement with the world and the earth.

The best part of an assembly is the community it creates, the memories we have of meeting friends from all over the world--renewing old ties and making new ones as we marvel at the great diversity of Christianity and the theological and spiritual insights of Christians from many traditions. But the assembly is more importantly an opportunity for a recommitment re·com·mit  
tr.v. re·com·mit·ted, re·com·mit·ting, re·com·mits
1. To commit again.

2. To refer (proposed legislation, for example) to a committee again.
 to the faith and courage of our ecumenical foremothers and forefathers forefathers nplantepasados mpl

forefathers nplancêtres mpl

forefathers nplVorfahren
. They have stated in no uncertain terms, since the first WCC WCC n abbr (= World Council of Churches) → COE m (Conseil œcuménique des Églises)

WCC n abbr (= World Council of Churches) → Weltkirchenrat m
 assembly, that the unity we seek is achievable--that our prophetic voices in the world, at each moment of history, can make a difference. They also have affirmed that change is not only possible but is intimately linked to the gospel we confess, as it mandates us to work for a more just, safe and peaceful world for all God's peoples and for all of creation.

Justice and peace have been enduring themes of the ecumenical movement ecumenical movement (ĕk'ymĕn`ĭkəl, ĕk'yə–), name given to the movement aimed at the unification of the Protestant churches of the world and ultimately of  since its inception. To this was added, in the 1970s, the deep conviction that the violence done to the earth is intricately interlinked with the lack of justice and peace in the world. Women in the ecumenical movement have been engaged in these issues throughout ecumenical history--not just in raising the challenges, but in asking new questions from their vantage point of often being the primary victims of injustice and violence. Additionally, women have always sought alternatives, challenging the assumption that the present world order of graded subjugation Subjugation
Cushan-rishathaim Aram

king to whom God sold Israelites. [O.T.: Judges 3:8]


consigned to servitude in retribution for trickery. [O.T.: Joshua 9:22–27]

Ham Noah

curses him and progeny to servitude. [O.
 is unchangeable un·change·a·ble  
Not to be altered; immutable: the unchangeable seasons.

. Feminist theologians root their conviction in the understanding that it is possible to envision a new world which can shift from a capitalist/socialist industrialized world order to a just/earth-loving world order where economic, political and social power is shared. Feminist economists and theologians have envisioned an alternative economic and ecological paradigm that embraces an ethic of care and that exposes and contests the disastrous impact of greed, privilege and power wielded by a few, jeopardizing the survival of millions of people and all life forms on this planet.

In this article, I will focus on the lack of justice and peace in the world as reflected in violence against women. I will draw on the important and significant contributions of the World Council of Churches as symbolic of the work of the churches in this area of their commitment to building a community of women and men dedicated to a culture of justice and peace.

A World of Contextual Violence and Episodic Justice

The United Nations has repeatedly addressed the issue of gender violence, trying to persuade governments to recognize the seriousness of crimes against women. The United Nations Development Fund for Women The United Nations Development Fund for Women, commonly known as UNIFEM, provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies that promote women’s human rights, political participation and economic security.  estimates that globally at least one out of every three women will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In most cases, the abuser is a member of a woman's own family. (1) The World Health Organization has warned that "Sexual violence is a pervasive global health and human rights problem. In some countries, approximately one in four women and girls over age 15 may experience sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, and rates of sexual abuse by nonpartners range from 1 to 12 percent over the course of a woman's lifetime." (2) Behind these cold statistics are the faces of women scarred and humiliated hu·mil·i·ate  
tr.v. hu·mil·i·at·ed, hu·mil·i·at·ing, hu·mil·i·ates
To lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect of. See Synonyms at degrade.
, beaten into submission, their bodies broken in times of conflict and of peace.

While the forms of violence and intensity of violence may vary from context to context, the fact remains that, regrettably, no society can yet claim that women and children live in a violence-free environment. In fact, as US theologian Mary Hunt Mary Hunt (1830-1906) became one of the most powerful women in the United States temperance movement promoting Prohibition of alcohol. As Superintendent of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union’s Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction she worked from the grass  has rightly pointed out, we live in "a world of contextual violence and episodic justice." (3) Women conclude that violence is functional--to keep systems of domination in place, whether it be in the context of economic globalization globalization

Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation
, or of social and cultural structures such as race, caste or sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces.
, or of ecclesial Ec`cle´si`al

a. 1. Ecclesiastical.
 structures. Violence is not a symptom of a dysfunctional society--it is so "normal" that many do not react to it!

Response from the Churches and the Ecumenical Movement

Fortunately, the churches have, over the years, made efforts to speak out and act to overcome violence against women. (4) In this section, I will include four initiatives emerging from the ecumenical movement.

First, the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998) was a major contribution made through the World Council of Churches. Throughout the Decade, the many forms of violence women experience were exposed through a variety of methodologies. One of these was a series of major gatherings of women (which in some instances included men) to focus attention on the issues with which women deal within their own continents. Asia, Africa, Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. , North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. , the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East had such gatherings.

This process concluded with a global gathering of men and women in 1997, entitled "Together with Courage: Women and Men Living Without Violence Against Women." The men and women who gathered in Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva.
 for this discussion explored the roots of the increasing violence against women as founded in the "increasing globalization of world markets and the concurrent exclusion of large sections of the population"; "the inequality of power relations between women and men even within the life of the churches"; "the silence of the churches"; "ecclesiastical and clergy power"; "the lack of accountability in the church"; "culture of impunity"; and "a biased reading of the Bible." (5) They said together:
   In contexts where women's bodies are made into objects and
   commodities, women are violated, the image of God is defiled and
   God's whole creation is distorted. We challenge the churches to
   reflect further on how to affirm our bodies and sexuality as gifts
   from God to be cherished and nurtured as temples of the Holy Spirit

In that same period, "women to women" solidarity visiting teams were organized to work with women in situations of war and conflict. Some of the countries visited included Serbia and Croatia, Sierra Leone Sierra Leone (sēĕr`ə lēō`nē, lēōn`; sēr`ə lēōn), officially Republic of Sierra Leone, republic (2005 est. pop. 6,018,000), 27,699 sq mi (71,740 sq km), W Africa. , former East Timor East Timor (tē`môr) or Timor-Leste (–lĕsht), Tetum Timor Lorosae, republic, officially Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (2002 est. pop. , Pakistan, Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (srē läng`kə) [Sinhalese,=resplendent land], formerly Ceylon, ancient Taprobane, officially Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, island republic (2005 est. pop. , Colombia, Fiji, the Philippines, the Philippines, The (fĭl`əpēnz'), officially Republic of the Philippines, republic (2005 est. pop. 87,857,000), 115,830 sq mi (300,000 sq km), SW Pacific, in the Malay Archipelago off the SE Asia mainland.  Sudan, Rwanda and Kenya. These visits exposed the way women's bodies are used as a weapon of war; indeed, in almost every report of war or conflict one can find a phrase proclaiming, "and many women were raped." The solidarity visits provided safe spaces for women to speak to one another and to share their personal stories of violence in the hands of "enemy" groups. But even within the "safety" of refugee camps, they often find no refuge from abuse by men of their own communities or even, in some instances, from peace-keeping forces. When a woman in an internally displaced people's camp in the context of postelection violence in Kenya (2007-2008) was asked, "What do you fear the most today?," she gave a one-word response: "Men." When we probed further, the truth was revealed: she was speaking of the men from her own community in the overcrowded campsite where she and her family had sought refuge.

Additionally, in the second half of the Decade, the WCC sent seventy-five Living Letters Teams, (7) composed of women and men drawn from the churches worldwide, to over three hundred member churches of the WCC to create the space for those churches and the women within them to discuss issues related to women's lives. The visits provided the opportunity for the international team to assess, with the churches, how far they had come in their solidarity with women. One of the issues addressed on these visits was that of violence against women in church and society. It was the women who often raised the issue, and this was discussed further with the church leaders, often in the presence of the women, allowing for a face-to-face dialogue between the women and leaders of the churches. As the final report of the Living Letters visits describes it:
   Although every church is against violence in principle, our visits
   unhappily confirmed that not all are opposed to it in practice. The
   churches tend to let violent men go free and at the same time
   prevent women from speaking out against the violence .... the
   failure of the churches to publicly condemn such violence and state
   clearly that it is against the teachings of Christ appeared with
   distressing regularity.... In many places we encountered
   theological justification for the violence against women and
   misinterpretations of man-woman relations in the Bible. (8)

The WCC's women's programme, through its work in this period, opened up discussions on issues such as domestic violence; of the so-called comfort women provided to Japanese soldiers in war camps during World War II (a form of abuse that continues yet today in other conflicts); "honour" killings of women by their own families when they dare to make alliances with men of another religion (or, in the case of South Asia This article is about the geopolitical region in Asia. For geophysical treatments, see Indian subcontinent.
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia
, with men of another caste group); the use of cultural practices to discriminate against women; prostitution and trafficking in women and children; pornography and the objectifying of women and children; denigrating images of women in media; and many other similar concerns.

A Decade Festival was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in the context of the eighth assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1998 to bring the Decade to conclusion. Some 1,000 women and 30 or so specially selected men gathered from all the continents and most of the WCC member churches, along with others, to celebrate the successes of the Decade and to identify the unfinished agenda that the churches still need to address. A special hearing was held at this festival to acknowledge the violence that women experience in the context of the churches themselves. A WCC press release related the stories of many women who had experienced various forms of violence. One Canadian clergywoman cler·gy·wom·an  
A woman who is a member of the clergy.
 spoke of being sexually abused as a child by her priest father. A woman from Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (păp`ə, –y  said she was in a violently abusive marriage for six years and sought an annulment annulment

Legal invalidation of a marriage. It announces the invalidity of a marriage that was void from its inception. It is to be distinguished from dissolution or divorce. To justify annulment, the marriage contract must have a defect (e.g.
 from her church after she left her husband for another man. Twenty-two years later, the church still has taken no action and she is unable to receive holy communion. Not all the stories in the press release described physical violence. A clergywoman from Aotearoa-New Zealand spoke of how she was forced to resign from her position as the coordinator of ministry education because her supervisors perceived her as a troublemaker. When she asked her church to evaluate why she had been forced out, her bishop interpreted her request as a "personal attack." Her ministry license was not renewed. "To those who look at me the metaphorical bruises do not show," the woman said. "Yet from the inside the 'bruises' have become disabling. The face of the institution is still smiling benevolently; the words from its painted mouth are still sweet." (9)

The hearing on violence against women in the church opened with a liturgical ceremony in which nine women from around the world carried vessels of water representing women's tears and poured the water into a large bowl placed on the altar. "I bring the tears of women [from my region] / of those who survived and those who never made it," said the first woman, who continued:
   Our tears as victims of war and internal conflicts; Our tears as
   women whose story was never told; Our tears as women, struggling to
   survive because of national debts and global economic control.

Each of the nine women identified the issues as pertinent to their own context.

The then general secretary of the WCC, Konrad Raiser--the only man on the podium --declared that the church "should not cover up the sickness anymore .... My final commitment is to work for and encourage a community of women and men where the sin of violence against women can be confessed and the healing power of forgiveness can be experienced." (10)

Second, the "Thursdays in Black" movement is a campaign the WCC initiated, growing out of a request from women in Serbia, after the women-to-women solidarity visit there in 1992, in the wake of the conflict which exposed that rape of the "enemy" women was used systematically as a weapon of war. Black was seen as a colour of resistance and protest; Thursday brought to mind the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo The Plaza de Mayo (Spanish for May Square) is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, at Coordinates:   in Argentina who protest every Thursday against the disappearance of their children under the military dictatorship A military dictatorship is a form of government wherein the political power resides with the military; it is similar but not identical to a , a state ruled directly by the military.  (1976-1983). Still today, women in some countries observe the Thursdays in Black resistance movement to highlight the many forms of violence women and children experience in their own contexts.

Third, the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010) was proclaimed as a result of the WCC's effort to address issues of violence beyond those explored during the Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women. In this context the WCC initiated "On the Wings of a Dove," a worldwide campaign on overcoming violence against women and children in 2004 (25 November-10 December), to coincide exactly with the annual secular campaign called "16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence." This campaign directly addressed the churches, calling on them to share in the 16 Days campaign during the season of Advent, when the church prepares itself for the incarnation of God's peace in the world. The campaign aimed at engaging the churches in developing pastoral and practical responses and actions to overcome violence against women through a 16-day global campaign, recognizing the potential of world religions to unmask the many forms of violence against women and children prevalent in family, church and society. Additionally, the Tamar Campaign, (11) initiated in Africa, has also gained recognition in some places, as it also is focused on challenging rape and other forms of violence against women and children.

Finally, the WCC has been working with men to develop positive understandings of masculinity as a means to address violence against women. In all the antiviolence work, men have been invited as partners with the understanding that the church is a community of women and men. Positive masculinities have been affirmed so as to engage men in the conversation. The general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit, describes it in this way in Created in God's Image: From Hegemony to Partnership:
   Since 1948, when the WCC formally came into being the importance of
   women and men working together in the search for unity has been a
   theological and methodical given. Although there were not nearly as
   many women as men at our first assembly in Amsterdam, some
   watershed statements that have guided the ecumenical movement were
   declared by women like Kathleen Bliss. (12) A generation later in
   1975, the Nairobi assembly report analyzed Christian unity in the
   church as a community of women and men. Section II of the document,
   "What Unity Requires," makes the following argument, "The
   relationship of women and men must be shaped by reciprocity and not
   by subordination. The unity of the Church requires that women be
   free to live out the gifts which God has given to them and to
   respond to their calling to share fully in the life and witness of
   the Church." (13)

In the introduction to Created in God's Image, jointly produced by World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC WCRC Women's Cancer Resource Center
WCRC Women of Color Resource Center
WCRC Whaling City Rowing Club (Massachusetts) 
) and World Council of Churches (WCC), one of the editors, Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, writes, "Promoting positive masculinities is important in dismantling the paradigm of power that is prevalent in the world." (14) The manual was designed for use in congregations and other communities in many parts of the world to help them to reconstruct masculinities "which are not based on competitiveness, power, control, violence and repression of emotions." (15) Philip Vinod Peacock, the other editor, lives his commitment to positive masculinities in his work as a teacher of Christian Ethics at the Bishop's College Bishop's College in Colombo, Sri Lanka was founded by the Church of England in Ceylon in February 1875.

Located in colombo 3,Sri lanka,It was one of the earliest mission schools of the Church of England in Ceylon. The college was first known as Bishopsgate School.
 in Calcutta, India. In a sermon preached in the chapel of the college in 2012, he chose the story of Jephthah's daughter from Judges 11. After a powerful exegesis exegesis

Scholarly interpretation of religious texts, using linguistic, historical, and other methods. In Judaism and Christianity, it has been used extensively in the study of the Bible. Textual criticism tries to establish the accuracy of biblical texts.
 of the text, he said, "For too long now heteronormative gender discrimination has served to subjugate sub·ju·gate  
tr.v. sub·ju·gat·ed, sub·ju·gat·ing, sub·ju·gates
1. To bring under control; conquer. See Synonyms at defeat.

2. To make subservient; enslave.
 women, lesser men and those that fall outside of our preconceived notions of gender roles and gender codes. To end this reign of patriarchy it means that we have to work hard to stop the literal and metaphorical slaughter of women, young girls and lesser men on the altar of patriarchy." He continued to delineate the need for theological schools
   ... also to reinvent our theology so that it can serve as a tool
   that dismantles patriarchy. This means that we need to reaffirm our
   commitment to do theology from the underside, to read our texts,
   our Bibles, our creeds and our doctrinal positions from the
   perspective of those who are oppressed and particularly women. It
   means that we have to commit to smashing patriarchy and all the
   symbols that uphold this demonic system. It means that we have to
   rework our spirituality that we will be able to learn from the
   spirituality of women and the spirituality of young women. It means
   that we radically commit ourselves to the ideals of feminist
   theology that seeks to dismantle all power and hierarchy and
   empower the oppressed. That, like Jesus, we seek to destabilize
   traditional power for the liberation of the oppressed. (16)

Identifying the Theological and Ethical Challenges

Given the rich history of engagement and active solidarity, the question to be asked is, What more can the churches do? Thus far it is women who have been exploring the theological questions, both to expose the causes of violence and to seek answers. At the special hearing during the Decade Festival (1998) on violence against women in the church, referred to earlier, mujerista theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  (who died in April 2012) reminded the gathered women and men that male-dominated church structures abuse women by not taking seriously their theology or their gifts: "Women need to understand that God can be understood through women's experience .... Women's theologies simply reclaim that as women we are made in the image of God." (17)

The biblical affirmation "made in God's image" (Gen. 1:27) has been the core message giving women the courage to face up to the challenge of dealing with the many forms of violence they experience and to recognize themselves not as victims but as survivors. Feminist theologians have claimed that since we are made in the image of God we will resist all forms of violence against our bodies, which epitomize the body of God; therefore, any form of violence against women is a form of aggression against the body of God. Yet, in spite of this foundational Christian teaching, even Christian women have so often acquiesced to the worst forms of violence. Women's bodies have been the site of possession, conquest, control and abuse because of dominant patriarchal cultures and the values they promote. So powerful are societal pressures that many women have come to believe that they are inferior beings and do not recognise the image of God in themselves. Mercy Amba Oduyoye, a theologian from Ghana, writes: "In the search for liberating hermeneutics, many women have claimed the biblical affirmation of our being created 'in the image of God' both for the promotion of women's self-worth and self-esteem and to protest dehumanization de·hu·man·ize  
tr.v. de·hu·man·ized, de·hu·man·iz·ing, de·hu·man·iz·es
1. To deprive of human qualities such as individuality, compassion, or civility:
 by others .... If one is in the image of God, then one is expected to practice the hospitality, compassion and justice that characterize God." (18)

Oduyoye continues that this "must begin with women learning to be hospitable to themselves, to not allow the invasion of their bodies, gifts from God, temple of God and inescapable part of our humanity." (19) Women have been encouraged to affirm boldly the human worth and dignity of women and all other communities that face marginalization mar·gin·al·ize  
tr.v. mar·gin·al·ized, mar·gin·al·iz·ing, mar·gin·al·iz·es
To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing.
. When violence is done to a woman, the image of God is violated--this is the simple message that gives dignity and hope to women.

In spite of this central biblical message, patriarchal misconceptions of Christian anthropology This article is about Christian anthropology. For other uses, see Anthropology (disambiguation).
In the context of Christian theology, theological anthropology refers to the study of the human ("anthropology") as it relates to God.
 have been the source of much of the inferiority heaped on women--of making the female body an obstacle to the fullness of woman's humanness in the hierarchy of creation. The popular understanding continues to be that woman was created as less than man and therefore is open to abuse and violence at the hands of men. A traditional theology of dualism has not only divided the male and the female but has also divided the body from the divine and has placed the divine somewhere outside our lives and everyday experiences. As Oduyoye explains:
   An element that is missing from traditional Christian anthropology
   is a positive appropriation of our embodiment. The necessity, of
   facing the issue of human sexuality as an integral part of our
   humanness and a gift from God is a specific contribution of women
   theologians to religious anthropology. The fear of our bodies has
   made it difficult to accept the integrity of our being and led to
   the separation of our make up into material and spiritual, body and
   soul/spirit/mind. (20)

The Brazilian feminist theologian Nancy Cardoso-Pereira has developed what Latin American women call "a body hermeneutic her·me·neu·tic   also her·me·neu·ti·cal
Interpretive; explanatory.

[Greek herm
" as a new theological methodology. This is not just a new way of doing theology, but is seen as the starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo

commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the
 for constructing knowledge. Writing on behalf of a group of women biblical scholars in Latin America, Cardoso-Pereira says:
   Reading the passion and resurrection of Jesus with the lacerated
   bodies of Latin America in mind requires us to contemplate the
   raped bodies of men and women, boys and girls, and to feel the
   urgent need for resurrection of these bodies now. The recreation of
   the body as a place of sacred revelation means accepting and
   affirming the liberating dynamics of enjoyment, pleasure without
   shame, without the limits imposed by shame, stereotypes and
   oppressive censorship. (21)

Asian theologians such as Kyung Chung Hyun from Korea, Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov.  theologian Kwok Pui-Lan, and Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, Dalit womanist wom·an·ist  
Having or expressing a belief in or respect for women and their talents and abilities beyond the boundaries of race and class: "Womanist ...
 theologian from India, and Fulata Lusungu Moyo, an African woman theologian have made important contributions to a theology of "embodiment" that challenges the abuse of the female body in any way. Sexuality is a taboo topic in the church, and has been shrouded with a silence that has contributed to the violence women experience. The church could have been more courageous in its responses, if it had created the environment for open and healthy discussions on sexuality. But the church has remained unable to address the many forms of sexual violence against women even, that which occurs right in the heart of the church--clergy sexual abuse and paedophilia paedophilia or US pedophilia

the condition of being sexually attracted to children [Greek pais, paid- child + philos loving]

Noun 1.
 continue still in all parts of the world. They remain as "embarrassing" and hidden secrets and are a corruption of ecclesial power and authority. (22)

Violence against Women as Sin?

This is perhaps the most difficult of the questions that women have addressed as they seek to find healing in the context of violence. Unfortunately, some in the churches have used the doctrines of the cross and of atonement to silence women. "Every time I beat my wife she should thank me, because she is one step closer to salvation," said a church leader to the team that was visiting his church in the context of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. The cross has been seen as the strongest symbol of Christ's identification as co-sufferer with the oppressed. However, to women its meaning has been distorted by the theology of sacrifice and suffering to which the church so easily invites women. A sacrificial lifestyle and a commitment to die for the other are indeed Christ-like qualities that women would emulate if it would lead to the liberation of themselves, their families and their communities. It is well known that most women would give up everything, including their own dreams and aspirations, for the sake of their families, especially for their children. Often this is a voluntary act, a conscious decision that some women make. However, it is equally true that because of this, women have borne pain and hurt for centuries, many times standing silently on the threshold of a violent death at the hands of the man with whom they live. Alternatively, it could be the experience of restrictions of time, space and movement that are imposed on women through strict mores and values of a patriarchal world order.

To Delores Williams, "Jesus did not come to die for humankind; Jesus came to live for humankind. Thus it is Jesus' life and his ministerial vision that redeem humans." (23) Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro from the Philippines writes, "... I [also] found Christ among women and men, who live out a loving, life-giving, and life-sustaining praxis. This liberated Christ continues to call everyone to follow the way that leads to the fullness of life for all." (24)

Oduyoye claims that the problem lies in the "collusion of the church" in the various forms of oppression of women. To her, "Christian discipleship is crucial" in dealing with these issues. She writes: "If unmerited suffering is redemptive, then in a community of women and men travelling with the suffering Christ, all need to share that suffering. Do not the Beatitudes Beatitudes (bē-ăt`ĭtdz') [Lat.,=blessing], in the Gospel of St. Matthew, eight blessings uttered by Jesus at the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.  apply to men? Christian women should challenge the theology, Christology and anthropology that do violence to women's humanity." (25)

The Decade Festival drafted an open letter to the churches that denounced violence against women as "a sin" and called the churches to repent for their participation in the violence. Women theologians have further unraveled the understanding of sin. The alienation from each other due to violence has to be the starting point for an interpretation of sin, according to Rosemary Radford Ruether Rosemary Radford Ruether (b. 1936) is a renowned feminist scholar and theologian, who is married to the political scientist Herman Ruether. They have three children and reside in California. . She is critical of the church, which has reduced sin to purely a question of alienation from God. (26) Redemption will come only when there is a healing of relationships between the victim and victimizer victimizer Psychology A victim who, having been physically, sexually, emotionally abused, reverses the role and abuses others  and not by an act of divine intervention that does not take into account the pain and suffering of the victim.

Ethics of Survival and Resistance

The God of Life is not silent but walks with us, challenging us to act with courage and hope. Impunity that is granted to perpetrators of violence allows for silences. Silences grant impunity. Women and children are most often deliberately made targets of violence, and the perpetrators are too often granted amnesty. To achieve true reconciliation between women and men, impunity given to male perpetrators of crimes needs to be addressed. Justice and a violence-free world can be achieved only when those who commit violence acknowledge it is a sin to abuse another human being, and healing will be achieved only when there is forgiveness granted and the restoration of dignity to the victim. Theological principles of forgiveness, reconciliation and justice are integral to any work in overcoming violence against women. The essential elements for the healing of wounds and for the restoration of broken social relationships are relearning how to live together in peace and mutual trust, reclaiming historical memory, and learning how to deal with the truth with justice, forgiveness and repentance. In this the church has a primary role to play.

Busan and Beyond

As the churches, ecumenical partners and other participants gather at the WCC's tenth assembly in Busan, Korea, in 2013, they have another opportunity to address the interlocked concerns of justice, peace and creation--they have yet another opportunity to stand in solidarity with women and to condemn unequivocally the violence women experience. While this article does acknowledge what the churches have done already, there is much more to do as yet. God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace--this theme of the assembly reminds us that a world of justice and peace is possible. A world without violence is possible--not just a reduction in violence, not creating climate for women to learn to tolerate violence, but putting an end to the violence. It is a call for our agency as churches and as individual Christians along with all other concerned people to act with conviction and determination. Women as well as feminist ethicists have begun searching for a new paradigm New Paradigm

In the investing world, a totally new way of doing things that has a huge effect on business.

The word "paradigm" is defined as a pattern or model, and it has been used in science to refer to a theoretical framework.
 for life that will be more caring of humanity and of creation. As a community of women and men, let us celebrate this hope, conscious that the tears of women shed and still to be shed are indeed a sign of the baptismal waters that could baptize bap·tize  
v. bap·tized, bap·tiz·ing, bap·tiz·es
1. To admit into Christianity by means of baptism.

a. To cleanse or purify.

b. To initiate.

 the church into becoming a courageous forerunner in the struggle for justice, for peace and for a violence-free world. Justice and peace have to be realized--violence in all its forms has to be resisted. Resisting violence is a deeply spiritual work interwoven in·ter·weave  
v. in·ter·wove , in·ter·wo·ven , inter·weav·ing, inter·weaves
1. To weave together.

2. To blend together; intermix.

 with struggles for life for all and in this task the God of Life will accompany us!

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) A method of applying a persistent name to documents, publications and other resources on the Internet rather than using a URL, which can change over time. : 10.1111/j.1758-6623.2012.00171.x

(1) United Nations Development Fund for Women, "Not A Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women" (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: UNIFEM, 2008);

(2) Claudia Garcia-Moreno, et al., WHO Multi-Country, Study on Women's Health Women's Health Definition

Women's health is the effect of gender on disease and health that encompasses a broad range of biological and psychosocial issues.
 and Domestic Violence Against Women (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2008);

(3) Mary E. Hunt, 'Waging War at Home Christianity and Structural Violence," in Miriam's Song V: Priests for Equality (West Hyattsville, MD: Priests for Equality, 1992).

(4) Helen Stuart, Helen Hood and Lesley Orr, eds., Streams of Grace (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2005). This book includes material that was systematically collected, documented and archived by three short-term consultants to the WCC, situated in Scotland. Some examples of "good practice" by individual churches, church groups, ecumenical bodies are recognized as signs of hope in responding to violence against women.

(5) Together with Courage: Women and Men Living Without Violence Against Women (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998).

(6) Ibid.

(7) The visits were so called based on St. Paul's salutation to the churches in Corinth: "You show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Cot. 3:3). The teams were sent as Living Letters to the churches worldwide.

(8) Living Letters: A Report of the Visits to the Churches during the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1997).

(9) From a WCC press release on the Ecumenical Decade Festival (No. 2), 28 November 1998,

(10) Ibid.

(11) The Tamar Campaign was initiated by the Ujamaa Ujamaa was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere's social and economic development policies in Tanzania just after it gained independence from Britain in 1964.  Center in 2000, at the then School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Nata, South Africa. It was launched as an African campaign by the WCC Ecumenical Theological Education programme in 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya.

(12) See "Bliss, Kathleen," in the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2d ed., ed. Nicholas Lossky, et al. (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2002), 123. Her statement made at the Amsterdam Assembly in 1948, adopted in its message, remains a motto of the ecumenical passion for visible unity: "We intend to stay together!"

(13) Olav Fykse Tveit, in Created in God's Image: From Hegemony to Partnership (Geneva: WCRC/WCC, 2010), x, quoting from David Paton, ed., Breaking Barriers Nairobi 1975, Official Report of the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Nairobi, 23 November-10 December, 1975 (London/Grand Rapids: SPCK/Eerdmans, 1976), 57-58.

(14) Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, "Introduction," in Created in God's Image, 4-5.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Philip Vinod Peacock, sermon preached at the Chapel of the Bishop's College, Calcutta, 8 July 2012.

(17) Press release on the Decade Festival; see n.9, above.

(18) Mercy Amba Oduyoye, "Spirituality of Resistance and Reconstruction," in Women Resisting Violence: Spirituality for Life, ed. Mananzan Mary John, et al. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995), 170.

(19) Mary Grey, quoting Mercy Amba Oduyoye, in Introducing Feminist Images of God, Introductions in Feminist Theology (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 82.

(20) Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Introducing African Women's Theology (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 69.

(21) Nancy Cordosa-Pereira, Ecumenical Review 54, no. 3 (July 2002): 236.

(22) It is encouraging to know that the following upcoming publication will address such concerns. Valli Batchelor (ed), When Pastors Prey (forthcoming, WCC Publications, 2012).

(23) Delores Williams, "Atonement," in The Dictionary of Feminist Theologies, ed. Letty M. Russell and J. Shannon Clarkson (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 18.

(24) Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, The Jesus of Asian Women (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2006), 194.

(25) Mercy Amba Oduyoye, "Violence Against Women: Window on Africa," in Voices from the Third World, EATWOT EATWOT Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians  8, no.1 (June 1995): 175. For this section of the paper I have relied heavily on my book No Longera Secret, The Church and Violence Against Women, rev. ed. (Geneva: RISK Books, WCC Publications, 1997).

(26) Rosemary Radford Ruether, Introducing Redemption in Christian Feminism, Introductions to Feminist Theology (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), 70ff.
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Author:Gnanadason, Aruna
Publication:The Ecumenical Review
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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