Today I received the latest e-newsletter from Christians for Biblical Equality (subscribe here, current issue here). It is always filled with good informative articles. Also, their quarterly academic journal Priscilla Papers are an amazing resource.
Anyway, as I was reading it over today, I came across a quote from a blog on Red Letter Christians by Jenny Rae Armstrong (read the blog post here) who said,
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every four girls has been sexually molested by the time she turns 14. (Stop for a moment and let that sink in. One in four of our precious little girls.) One in six women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and approximately 7.8 million women have been raped by a boyfriend, husband, or significant other. According to estimates from the US Department of Justice, fewer than half of all rapes are reported to the police, and only one out of twenty rapists ever spends a day in jail for their crimes.
What this tells me is that the problem isn’t histrionic shepherdesses crying wolf. Most of them never even make a peep. The real problem is that the flocks are teeming with wolves, and women are afraid to speak up for fear of getting their throats torn out. Liar. Hussy. Shameful. Slut. Everyone will hate you if you tell.
Too often, we’re proving the wolves right.
Friends, sexual harassment is a serious issue. As Christians, we need to stop minimizing these evils and listen carefully to what the victims have to say. Even when it costs us something. Even when it makes us uncomfortable. And rest assured, it probably will.
1 in 4 before 14, 1 in 6 in her lifetime, fewer than half are reported to authorities & only 1 in 20 spends time in jail. And this is in the United States. This got me to thinking about the state of violence against women world-wide. I wasn’t going to post all the numbers but then I couldn’t decide which to cut so here is most of the article available from The United Nations:
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. Based on country data available, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime — the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.
Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, violence against women devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
It takes many forms and occurs in many places — domestic violence in the home, sexual abuse of girls in schools, sexual harassment at work, rape by husbands or strangers, in refugee camps or as a tactic of war.
In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners.
In South Africa, a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner.
In India, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders in 2007.
In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
Women and girls comprise 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.1 million and Sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).
Sexual Violence against Women and Girls
An estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, still birth and abortion.
Up to 53 percent of women physically abused by their intimate partners are being kicked or punched in the abdomen.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds.
In Ecuador, adolescent girls reporting sexual violence in school identified teachers as the perpetrator in 37 percent of cases.
Rape as a method of warfare
Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher.
Cost of Violence against Women
Domestic violence alone cost approximately USD 1.16 billion in Canada and USD 5.8 billion in the United States. In Australia, violence against women and children costs an estimated USD 11.38 billion per year.
Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advancements, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace.
In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
Church, this should NOT be so. Therefore, it is my commitment to in my corner of the world to say no more. I will encourage women to come forward. I will defend them against those who would call them “Liar. Hussy. Shameful. Slut.” and I will resist the ugly place in my heart that would call them that myself.
There is a concept called synchronicity which is according to dictionary.com, “an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated.” I experienced this today when I first saw the Arise Newsletter. I immediately thought of our Novitas life group discussion from last night about helping our community by volunteering at Brighter Tomorrows (a local battered women’s shelter). I am more committed than ever to volunteer at this shelter in some capacity in the coming year. The church must be an agent for change on behalf of women where violence is concerned whenever and wherever possible.
Sadly, the church has a less than stellar record when it comes to its stance on violence against women. Even though (I would hope) most people would say they are staunchly opposed to all violence against women, too often women are told if they would just do a better job of submitting, their husband wouldn’t hit them or emotionally abuse them. Or worse yet, a popular book on submission “Created to Be His Helpmeet” which says on Page 270: [In a discussion of enduring abuse in silence:] “Women who threaten to report him to the law,’… are rebellious. They will never make it to the hall of fame found in Hebrews 11, where Sara was listed, nor will they make it into a heavenly marriage here on earth. They will go to their graves unloved and uncherished, a total failure as the woman God called them to be.” In a book I read last year by J Lee Grady, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he discusses a comprehensive study done in the mid 80’s by clinical psychologist Jim M. Alsdurf (Fuller Theological Seminary) in which 5700 Protestant pastors in the U.S. and Canada were surveyed. The study found:
- 26% said they normally tell a woman who is abused by her husband that she should continue to submit to him “and to trust that God would honor her action by either stopping the abuse or giving her the strength to endure it.”
- About 25% said a lack of submissiveness in the wife is what triggered the violence in the first place.
- 71% said they would never advise a battered wife to leave her husband or separate because of abuse
- 92% said they would never counsel a battered wife to seek divorce.
Shocking. I have even heard of women who were told that even if their husband’s abuse results in her death that God will reward her for her obedience. Oh, hell no. I think that makes God sick. I just envision him screaming through his tears, “NO! NO! NO!” I can only hope that these numbers have changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Sadly, it is my fear that they have not. Books continue to come out and people continue to preach doctrines that implicitly if not explicitly teach that women are equal to men in the same way that the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm so eloquently put it, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”