Diane Langberg Presents A Missional Response to Global Violence Against Women
The material immediately below is taken from the volume, REFORMED MEANS MISSIONAL: FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE WORLD. This volume was compiled by the WRF and will be published by New Growth Press in mid-August, 2013. New Growth's website is here - http://www.newgrowthpress.com/
The specific chapter in which this material appears is entitled A Missional Response to Global Violence Against Women, it was written by WRF Board member, author, and counselor Dr. Diane Langberg, and it will also be published as a separate-mini-book for the benefit of the church.
We post this excerpt here because we rcently published, signed by many WRF members and others, on the subject of sexual abuse in Christian churches, organizations, and institutions. That statement is also availabkle on the WRF website.
[NOTE: This item expresses the views of the individual to whom the item is ascribed and does not necessarily reflect the position of the WRF as a whole.]
You are, I anticipate, reading this in the name of Jesus—the name in which you live and move and have your being. Living out your life in the name of Jesus means you are bearing his character out into this world. There is much we could say about our world—much that calls for the attention of the people of God. We are going to consider only one sliver: violence against females.
Sadly, this has not been a topic of central interest to the church of Jesus Christ. How that must grieve the One in whose name we live, for to ignore the issues we will consider is, frankly, to ignore the heart of God and to fail to live in his name. So let us look together at this world our God so loved, and see the plight of females created in his image and loved by him.
According to Amnesty International, one in three females worldwide —nearly one billion—are beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime. One in three—think about that statistic the next time you sit in an airport or walk through a crowded marketplace or sit in a conference such as this one or in the pews of your own church. In fact, make a point of visualizing one in three females. When you do, you will understand that you are constantly in contact with women who know all too well what it means to be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused. They are here.
If we think specifically about the United States, most studies suggest that one in four females is sexually abused by the age of eighteen.3 This is not just an “out there” problem. If you browse the web for sites related to sexual abuse among Christian women, you will quickly discover that little girls in Christian homes have been abused by so-called Christian fathers, uncles, teachers, and pastors. Rape, one of the most underreported of all crimes, is believed to happen to one in five women in the US. About five million domestic-abuse victimizations occur each year among US women eighteen and older. Estimates indicate that a woman is battered every 15 seconds. More than three women are murdered daily by their husbands or boyfriends. Pregnant women, the most vulnerable of women, are more likely to be victims of homicide than die of any other cause.
Battering is the leading cause of injury in women ages 15–44, more than rape, mugging, and car accidents combined. Statistically, it is far more dangerous for women to go home than to walk city streets alone at night. These numbers do not change when you survey the Body of Christ. Chuck Colson states that “about 25% of Christian homes witness abuse of some kind.”4 In the United States, where there are many laws protecting women on the books, being born female is still something of a risk.
Moving back out into the wider world, the most brutal and destructive manifestation of an anti-female bias is female infanticide. There are countries today where baby girls are left in the jungles to die, given poison at birth, or buried face down in the ground right after birth. There are no overall statistics, but a minimum estimate would place the casualties in the hundreds of thousands. They are killed because they had the audacity to be born female. Sex-selective abortions count for an even higher number of missing girls. It is estimated that as many as a million baby girls are aborted by parents determined not to raise a daughter. A recent article in The Economist stated that demographics worldwide suggest that 100 million females are simply missing—aborted or left to die at birth.5
Giving birth itself is the most dangerous labor in the world. Some 600,000 mothers die in agony every year. Child marriage, female genital mutilation, and other traditional practices cause physical and psychological harm to countless females. Girls have acid thrown in their faces for attending school; they are stoned to death for being raped; and, in a vain attempt to protect them, have their breasts ironed or disfigured by their own mothers in a country where they are usually raped by age thirteen. Violence is a major health and development issue for girls worldwide. Domestic violence, incest, dowry violence, acid killings (forty percent of victims under age eighteen), “honor killings,” and mutilation all destroy lives. Young girls are especially susceptible to HIV, and in some countries the infection rates for girls are three to six times higher than for boys.6 Women now represent fifty percent of the 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS.7
Women are also the vast majority of the poorest of the poor. And finally, there is the sex trafficking of girls and women that is utterly destroying close to a million females annually, as they are moved across national boundaries and sold into virtual slavery. A woman or girl is sold somewhere in the developing world every ten minutes in order to supply this global sex trade. Sex trafficking is a brutal and large-scale destructive force of girls and women today; we will consider this in more detail later.