Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013.06.05 Women and Violence—Again and Forever?

I’ve just read The Anglican Journal’s small report on a meeting held on March 1-3, 2013, sponsored by Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE, nice acronym!). The meeting was held in Manhattan, New York and was attended by eleven women who traveled from Africa and America to have conversations.

Conversations took place in small groups with the goal of breaking the silence about violence against women.  The groups had the topic and the structure and, as the Indaba model encourages, each group established its own focus and process.

Indaba is a South African term that basically means meeting. The just retired Archbishop of Canterbury appropriated the term for the Lambeth Conference of Anglican clergy in 2008. The idea is that medium-sized groups (not plenaries) come together to converse about large, even global, issues and problems. Call it a family meeting.

Here’s an eye-opener that shot my eyes nearly out of my head.

A youngest woman participant  at the AWE gathering, Faith Meitiaki from Kenya, expressed surprise that women in the developed world struggle with life challenges and sexual abuse and domestic violence in the same way women in less privileged circumstances do.

She said: “For me it was an eye-opener: that, as long as you are a woman, you will always face violence. That was the common denominator between the women from Africa and America.”

As long as you are a woman. So why have I and so many other women continued to write, work and preach against violence against women?  Are we hopeless cases because of our gender? Is there safety for women without a man to protect her? 

I have no good answers but I will think and pray about this “eye-opener.”  The only one thing I am completely sure of is that this painful common denominator, which I suspect is no different for women in general than it was for those women at the AWE meeting, is not God’s will, God’s desire, God’s dream, or whatever else you want to attribute to a power greater than human power, a power more loving than human power—even if you don’t believe in God.

We earthlings with our free will and the best of our good will just aren’t doing very well with justice, compassion, truth and love.  Simply so.

But is it because we are godless or humanless?  Or both?