16 May 2013
A culture that values women
The Alliance in Wales has been working recently on the issue of violence against women, an area that has attracted masses of international media coverage of cases including those in India. Locally, the Welsh government has been leading the way in the UK by producing a White Paper Consultation on legislation to end violence against women and domestic abuse, which closed in February this year. The practical step taken by the Alliance was to write a response to the consultation that conveyed Jesus' attitude towards woman, which was to promote a culture that values them. One of the prominent topics within the consultation was an emphasis on prevention through education on healthy and safe relationships. This truly resonated with the Alliance's understanding that it is key for both young girls and boys to build up self-worth, value and esteem in order to equip them for healthy relationships in the future. Furthermore the theme of prevention was also the agreed topical focus for Gweini's violence against women conference scheduled for 2014.
The Alliance in Wales has experienced challenges in raising awareness of violence against women within the church as many are unaware of how to approach these issues and more clarity is needed to simply understand what violence against women is. Many have a misconception that it is limited to domestic abuse and sexual exploitation, but this leaves out significant proportions of violence against women which involve coercion, neglect and discrimination. The Alliance has continued to network and build bridges among Christian initiatives already working within the field of violence against women, including the international charity Restored.
However, the Alliance has also experienced some strong protectionist responses from non-Christian frontline violence against women service providers as they continue to be suspicious of the motives of the Church in engaging with these issues. The Alliance considers that the Church has capacity to truly inspire change, albeit in continued phases and not leaps and bounds as may currently be the case. The Church is uniquely placed to reach a wide range of society through its networks, with links within various cultures and sub cultures. For example, on a normal Sunday morning, many churches will have access to Welsh, migrant and black and ethnic minority communities, and a mixture of males and females of various ages.
In moving forward with the violence against women agenda the Alliance is not oblivious to the fact that men are a part of the problem but also hold the key to being the solution. Through this the Alliance hopes to encourage perpetrator programs in order to rehabilitate men and sometimes women, engage in positive parenting and truly seek to cultivate a culture that equips men to value women. This will truly be a step forward in changing perceptions and promoting non-violent behaviour towards women.
Mwansa Makubalo, research assistant, Evangelical Alliance Wales