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25th Provincial Council Meeting

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Anglican Church of Southern Africa: Media Statement: 11 February 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa: Media Statement: 11 February 2013

‘365 Days of Non-Violence’ say Anglican Women, as Bishop Margaret Vertue visits Bredasdorp

‘Anglicans in Southern Africa have always strongly supported the 16 days of Activism Against Violence Against Women and Children, but last year we had already recognized that this was not enough’ said Ms Pumla Titus, President of the Anglican Women’s Fellowship (AWF). ‘Therefore, we and the Mothers’ Union, our Church’s other major women’s network, jointly called for 365 Days of Non-Violence.   Today we are repeating that call.’

Mrs Thembsie Mchunu, Mothers’ Union President, echoed the call, ‘The tragic rape and murder of Anene Booysen has put the spotlight on the unacceptable levels of gender violence which have become a daily reality. We must grasp this moment to take to heart all the commitments we make, so that our words become realities within our churches, our families, our communities, our nation.’

The Resolution (full text below) is a pledge to ensure that homes, churches and communities are ‘safe places’ for everyone. They also pledge to support programmes for sustained action across a range of initiatives, including breaking silence around abuse, helping the abused (including men), and promoting healthy communities and the wellness of women. In addition, as part of the International Anglican Women’s Network, Ms Titus will represent the Anglican Church of Southern Africa at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, in New York in March. This year’s theme is ‘The elimination of all forms of violence on Women & Children’.

Meanwhile, the Rt Revd Margaret Vertue, Bishop of False Bay, led the Anglican service in Bredasdorp, which lies in her Diocese, on Sunday. ‘It is a community in pain’ she said subsequently, giving assurances of prayer for those closest to Anene, and calling for the media and others to give them space and privacy to grieve. The Diocese of False Bay has pursued a particularly active programme to promote gender equality in recent years. This includes major marches around the 16 Days of Activism over each of the past few years, with the Church Men’s Society and Bernard Mizeki Men’s Guild signing pledges of ‘Not in my name’.

At a national level, all Anglican men have been asked to do this same, as this week the Anglican Church heeds the call of Bishop Rubin Philip (see statement below) to make Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a time of reflecting on what we can each do, acknowledging that ‘every time we fail to act against gender based violence, we are complicit in its perpetration.’ Anglican churches are also being requested to light a candle in memory of Anene and all women who have suffered the violence of rape. Meanwhile, all the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa signed up to the White Ribbon Campaign in 2011, and encouraged their congregations to follow suit. Alongside Bishop Rubin’s call to make these pledges tangible in local communities, he also called upon the government to formulate and implement a national strategy to help ‘end this moral sickness and recover our humanity’.

 

Issued by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Inquiries: (+27) 31 308 9300 (office hours) or Ms Wendy Kelderman (+27) 21 763 1320 (office hours)


 [Notes for Editors: 1. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is currently out of South Africa on retreat.

 2. The full text of the Resolution passed by the Anglican Women’s Fellowship, and the Mothers’ Union, in late 2012, in support of the Third Millennium Development Goal of Promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, follows below:

 

RESOLUTION

We the Anglican Women pledge our efforts towards achieving 365 Days of none violence against Women and children. We will ensure that our homes, our parishes and our communities are regarded as safe places where our parents, partners, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters live in peace and harmony. We will promote all efforts and programmes that ensure that those who are abused may seek help and speak out against any form of abuse. We will ensure that those men who are abused may be able to seek help and all will find refuge in times of need. We will ensure that all perpetrators receive counseling and support.

We will break the silence on all forms of abuse and support the equal sharing of responsibilities, which will culminate to equal participation in decision making to build our parishes and communities.

We will support all programmes that promote the wellness of women and ensure that women are aware of their basic rights.

 

3. The full text of Bishop Rubin Phillip’s Statement of 8 February follows below:

 

A Call to South Africans to Recover our Humanity

 

Anene Booysen is a name on the lips of almost every South African this week. She has become the visible image of a deathly scourge that haunts us all – the scourge of rape. As happens more and more frequently, Anene’s rape was accompanied by extraordinary levels of violence.

Anene has been robbed of her life. Her mother has been robbed of a child. But it is not only Anene who has died brutally this week. The hope of our rainbow nation dies, agonising cry by agonising cry, every time a woman is raped - approximately 3500 times a day.   How is it that the dream nation has become the rape capital of the world?

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian calendar. Lent is a time of repentance and fasting. Leaders in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) have called on all members of the Church to use the season of Lent to recognise that every time we fail to act against gender based violence, we are complicit in its perpetration. Anglican churches are being requested to light a candle on Wednesday in memory of Anene and all women who have suffered the violence of rape. Male members are being asked to declare “not in my name. This violence may not continue.”

All Clergy are being asked to address the issue of rape and to invite members of their congregations to seek ways together for all of us to end this moral sickness and recover our humanity.

ACSA is also calling upon

  • the government to formulate and implement a national strategy ; and
  • the police and justice system to bring the perpetrators of Anene’s rape and death to justice.

Christians affirm that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. Each human being who is raped by our violence, left to die by our lack of compassion, grieves the heart of God. For the sake of the memory of Anene, for the sake of her mother Corlia Olivier, for the sake of our humanity, let us stop this deathly illness in our society.

 

Issued by Bishop Rubin Phillip, Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Inquiries: (+27) 31 308 9300 (office hours)