“Most men don’t overtly abuse women or girls or other gender identities, but that’s our apathy by not doing anything, challenging others, so we’re complicit in this gender-oppression outside and inside the church.”
Men of faith, love and serve those in your community by being attentive to gender-based violence wherever and whenever you suspect it. Take action. Start by respecting and honoring the women in your lives so that you are setting the right example. Then, influence those you can to do the same. Do even more than that. Hold them accountable to do so.
These were just some of the messages communicated in the NGO CSW session of March 14, 2016, “Engaging Men of Faith to Be Champions in the Fight to End Gender-Based Violence.” The session was led by We Will SpeakOut.US, a coalition of U.S. faith-based organizations that have united to educate and take action against gender-based violence. The conversation included the moderator, who in the past served as a journalist covering the 1994, Rwandan genocide; an Episcopal church pastor from Liberia; an Anglican church pastor from Burundi; and the director of CONNECT, a local New York-based organization dedicated to ending family and gender violence.
The presenters gave several concrete steps for men of faith to take in combatting gender-based violence. They said that pastors and leaders in faith-based institutions must be challenged in regards to the sometimes harmful messages they convey to their congregations that perpetuate gender-based violence and a lack of professional help-seeking by victims. They spoke out against the prevalent apathy of men of faith on this issue. Further, they cited the “rumor mill” in such organizations, along with the associated negative attention that brings to victims, as a major reason for victims not reporting these acts of violence. 75% of abuse goes unreported, they said.
Finally, the Liberian pastor encouraged parents to have conversations with their children about sexual issues and gender-based violence so as to bring attention to such important areas that will serve to help protect and preserve people’s good, and especially women’s security.