LWF encourages Churches in India to support calls for gender justice

January 21, 2013 by  
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Junge’s Open Letter Emphasizes Need to Break Silence over Violence against Women

Junge’s Open Letter Emphasizes Need to Break Silence over Violence against WomenGeneva, January 15, 2013: The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge says the brutal assault and rape that led to the death of a young woman in New Delhi, India, stands out as a painful reminder that “the achievement of gender justice is a matter of life and death.”

In an open letter to the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI), 14 January, Junge offered the LWF’s prayers for strength and courage upon the bereaved family and all who mourn the loss of life through such ruthless violence.

According to media reports, the woman and her male companion were attacked on a bus in New Delhi on 16 December 2012. She died of her injuries at a Singapore hospital about two weeks later.

The general secretary noted that this concrete case had revealed again that the implicit violence enshrined in unjust gender relationships finds explicit expression in actions of violence, experienced by many women around the world today and for which “sometimes they have to pay with their very lives.”

The case has prompted protests in India calling for tougher laws against crimes related to violence against women. For the LWF general secretary, this remarkable reaction “stands in stark contrast to the attitude of denial and silence” that is common in similar cases. It is an expression of the resolve by Indian civil society to show “that things definitely have to change.”

In his letter to the UELCI, which groups LWF member churches in India, Junge encouraged the churches to support civil society in the evolving “courageous step” towards the deep transformation that needs to happen so that situations such as the one experienced by the young woman “are eradicated forever.”

The general secretary expressed gratitude to the Lutheran churches in India for their ongoing work with a strong gender perspective, and encouraged them to deepen their commitment to such programs as one of their contributions to the current public discussion. He also commended to them resources developed in the Lutheran communion including the LWF document, Churches Say “No” to Violence against Women, which has been translated into four Indian languages, and the publication “It shall not be so among you!” A Faith Reflection on Gender and Power.

Junge noted that LWF member churches in other parts of the world are learning from equally painful situations that the vision of moving to just relations between men and women requires deep and prayerful self-examination within the church.

In the LWF “we are coming to understand that this is best done through the establishment of clear policies that state a zero-tolerance to sexual violence and establish procedures to report abuse.”

His open letter called upon all LWF churches to move beyond horror and the resulting paralysis over unspeakable violence by deepening their commitment to gender justice. “Silence around violence needs to be broken, awareness needs to be raised, leadership needs to be educated and policies need to be developed,” Junge added.

– r christopher

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