Churches’ move will bol­ster anti-vi­o­lence cam­paign

Fiji Sun - - Comment - NE­MANI DELAIBATIKI Feed­back: ne­mani.delaibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

The churches’ move to in­cor­po­rate anti-vi­o­lence ad­vo­cacy in their ser­mons and re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties is a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment. Gen­der-based vi­o­lence and child abuse are a scourge on our so­ci­ety. Their preva­lence is a na­tional shame and we should do all we can to stamp them out. They have no place in the new Fiji where laws have been strength­ened to pro­tect our women and chil­dren. In this anti-vi­o­lence cam­paign, Gov­ern­ment can­not do it alone. It re­quires the sup­port of every­one to send out a pow­er­ful mes­sage that vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren is un­ac­cept­able.

It is there­fore heart­en­ing that the Fiji Coun­cil of Churches has joined the bat­tle against vi­o­lence. Pre­vi­ously, the Gov­ern­ment and non-govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Fiji Women’s Cri­sis Cen­tre have been at the fore­front of the cam­paign. Now they have been joined by the Fiji Coun­cil of Churches. This is a sig­nif­i­cant move be­cause churches have a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence on their mem­bers. The Break the Si­lence ob­ser­vance was launched in sev­eral churches last Sun­day where ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal lead­ers spoke on the is­sue and mem­bers prayed for a gen­uine change of heart in so­ci­ety’s at­ti­tude to­wards women and chil­dren. Peo­ple must realise that those who in­flict vi­o­lence or hurt women and chil­dren are not only break­ing the law, they are also com­mit­ting a grave sin from a spir­i­tual per­spec­tive. As far as chil­dren are concerned, abusers need to take heed of the warn­ing in the Holy writs. In the Holy Bi­ble, Psalm of the Old Tes­ta­ment says “Chil­dren are an her­itage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Later, Je­sus Christ warns in the New Tes­ta­ment: “But whoso shall of­fend one of these lit­tle ones which be­lieve in me, it were bet­ter for him that a mill­stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Both our law and God’s law will hold abusers re­spon­si­ble and they will be pun­ished ac­cord­ingly.

This is the mes­sage that needs to get out. That vi­o­lence of any form against the in­no­cent and vul­ner­a­ble of so­ci­ety can­not be tol­er­ated. If this goes against the grain of any cul­ture, so be it. The law in our statute books over­rides other con­sid­er­a­tions whether they are cul­tur­ally-based or oth­er­wise.

The in­volve­ment of churches is set to lift the pub­lic aware­ness on this se­ri­ous is­sue. In some cul­tures the gen­der, child and sex is­sues are usu­ally not talked about openly. It is re­garded as ta­boo. Those days are gone now.

There is a def­i­nite shift in pub­lic opin­ion that this problem had been al­lowed to grow for too long caus­ing se­ri­ous so­cial prob­lems.

Openly dis­cussing this is­sue is long over­due. It should take prece­dence over cul­tural sen­si­tiv­i­ties and con­sid­er­a­tions. Churches, through their min­istries, can help spread the mes­sage to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble – that vi­o­lence is evil and can­not be tol­er­ated and those who com­mit the of­fence will be caught and pun­ished ac­cord­ingly. The mes­sage is sim­ple: STOP THE VI­O­LENCE!

Peo­ple must realise that those who in­flict vi­o­lence or hurt women and chil­dren are not only break­ing the law, they are also com­mit­ting a grave sin from a spir­i­tual per­spec­tive.

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