WWSOSA would like to invite organisations and individuals to endorse this statement. If you would like to do so, send an email to the coordinator.
As a nation, we are once again deeply traumatised by the most horrendous violence against one of us. Perpetrated by one of us.
How did we get here? Again?
The We Will Speak Out South Africa website (wwsosa.org.za) contains various statements published over the past few years decrying the brutality of GBV. Reviewing them, it becomes clear that speaking out is not enough as it does not lead to real change.
We heard last week that 23 000 teen pregnancies were recorded in Gauteng in a year and that 108 women and girls were raped every single day between 1 April and 30 June 2021.
While we were still digesting this, we heard of Nosicelo—a young woman with her whole life ahead of her and plans to lift her whole family out of poverty—being butchered by a man supposed to be her partner, friend and lover.
In the past 24 hours, the KZN Provincial GBVF Working Group–that includes high-level leaders of key Government and other service providers to fast-track intractable GBV cases–received reports of two cases in separate rural areas: a young woman’s lifeless body dumped beside a river and a 17-year old child who lives alone with her baby who went missing after reporting being sexually assaulted.
We may never hear of them in the media – but they are part of us; they are us.
And the perpetrators, too, are part of us. Are they also us?
Words fail us.
Instead of trying to find the ‘right’ words to speak into this situation, we can only cry out in desperation an adaptation of Jesus’ own words:
“Forgive us, Lord, for we know not what we do”!
Forgive us for what we do as churches and other faith communities that undermine the presence of God in women, making men believe they have a right to control women’s lives and bodies, even their families and their future. How have our teachings, theologies, and practices contributed to creating a society in which such crimes can ever be considered a course of action?
Dr Nontando Hadebe, International Coordinator of the Side by Side Network hosted by WWSOSA and a leader in our Faith Action to End GBV Collective, recently referred to the need for a “Reverse Propheticism” in which life ‘speaks back’ to religion. She warned that the ideals of our religions “mean nothing unless they make a tangible difference to the concrete daily experiences of women’s lives.”
As long as women are the poorest, most marginalised members of our societies, and their bodies are degraded, beaten, raped and even cut into pieces, we have failed to respond to God’s call to minister peace, love and justice. We need to continue to beg forgiveness.
But when we are honest: is it because “we know not what we do”?
It is time we become silent. So we might begin to hear the whispered, screaming lament of the millions of violated women and might even recognise them in our own hearts.
On almost the same date in 2019, we published yet another media statement in response to the brutal slaying of a young woman known to the public as Uyinene.
We repeat the final sentence:
“Let us hold one another to account- to act, to live, to say YES to be the change we dream of, every day of the year”… until we can be the change, see the change, live the change, so others may simply live.
Developed by WWSOSA
Endorsed by (as on 1 January 2022):
Diocese of Natal Gender Ministry – Archdeacon Forbes Maupa and Daniela Gennrich
ELCSA Development Service – Ashmeer Joseph
Faith Action to End Gender Based Violence (Collective) – Ms Nomgqibelo Mdlalose
Hands of Compassion – Ps Xana McCauley
Harry Gwala Council of Churches – Bishop M Mngcwengi
Institute of Afrikology – Dr Yaa Ashantewaa Archer-Ngidi
International Federation of Christian Churches (IFCC) – Ps Giet Khosa
Justice & Peace Ministry in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg – Tshepo Ratsomo
Justice & Peace: Bryanston Catholic Parish – Judy Stockill
KwaZulu Regional Christian Council – Bishop Bheki Buthelezi
KwaZulu Regional Christian Council (KRCC) – Sthembile Sibiya
KZN Network on Violence Against Women – Cookie Edwards
Liberating Evangelical Lutheran Church – Rev. Lucas Morena
MARFAM (Marriage and Family Renewal Ministry) – Toni Rowland
Masakhe Youth Foundation – Ntwenhle Majozi
Methodist Church of Southern Africa – Bishop Purity Malinga
Methodist Women’s Manyano, Mokala Montle Synod – Sarah Phepheng
Midlands Christian Council – Rev Dr CB Thenjwayo
Mthonjaneni Community Resource Centre – Pastor Irene Buthelezi
Phephisa Survivors Network – Nompilo Gwensa
Rhema Bible Church North – Ps Xana McCauley
Rhema Family of Churches – Ps Larry Elliott
Ru’ha Community – Rev Dianne Willman
Side by Side – Dr Nontando Hadebe
Sonke Gender Justice – Rev Bafana Khumalo
Southern KwaZulu Natal Christian Council (SKZNCC) – Bishop Ngcamu
Thukela Amajuba Mzinyathi Christian Council – Rev Sonto Thusi
Tugela Amajuba Mzinyathi Christian Council – Rev Sicelo Sikhosana
Bishop Bheki Buthelezi
Bishop M Mngcwengi
Bishop Purity Malinga
Lyn van Rooyen
Mehreen Mia Cassimjee – UN Peace Ambassador
Pastor Irene Buthelezi
Pastor Xana McCauley
Prof. Lulama Makhubela
Rev. Bafana Khumalo
Rev. Desmond Lesejane
Rev. Merrishia Singh-Naicker
Saydoon Nisa Sayed
The Venerable Rodney Whiteman