"This is My Body": Addressing Global Violence Against Women
SPS Program: Melissa Archer 2021
The 2021 conference theme considers the growing global epidemic of violence against woman. A 2006 Study of the Secretary-General of the United Nations titled “Ending Violence Against Women: From Words to Actions” declared that “eliminating violence against women remains one of the most serious challenges of our time” (www.unwomen.org). Global statistics show that 7 out of 10 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. In the United States, more than 600 are raped or sexually assaulted every day. According to the US Bureau of Justice, women in the lowest income category experience more than 6 times the rate of domestic violence than women in higher income brackets. Around the world, over 66,000 women are killed every year, with the highest number of deaths in El Salvador. In countries like India where males are deemed as more valuable, socially and economically, the practice of sex-selective abortions has resulted in a dwindling female population, the effects of which have led to an increase of kidnappings, forced marriages, and rape. In war-ravaged countries, militia groups have weaponized rape and often kidnap young girls, forcing them into marriage or sex trafficking. Other examples of physical violence against women that happen in the US and abroad include female genital mutilation, honor killings, child marriages, femicide, domestic violence, human trafficking, prostitution, and rape. According to the 2016 United Nations on Drugs and Crime report, women and girls make up 96% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The US department of defense states that the trafficking of women and children is the world’s fastest growing crime. Added to physical violence is emotional, psychological, social, and religious violence. The recent #MeToo movement exposed not only the entertainment industry but also the Church, with some prominent church leaders at the center of the controversy, and the #pentecostalsisterstoo meeting held at the 2018 SPS conference in Cleveland, TN, brought the issue squarely to our society as many of our sisters shared their own stories.
Violence against women not only affects women and children but also our global society in areas such as health, education, economics, and human flourishing. The UN report roots the violence in patriarchy and the structural relationships of inequality between women and men. It issues a call for communities to “examine practices and values that promote violence against women and offer guidance for sustainable change,” and it is in the spirit of this call that the theme for our conference is presented.
Pentecostals have been engaged in social issues since the beginning of our movement. We believe that men and women are created in Imago Dei, that the gospel is for all, and that the Spirit is poured out on men and women in equal measure. We believe that the two greatest commands – to love God and neighbor – compel us to action in the face of sin and injustice on behalf of those who experience oppression. Our plenary speakers are invited to help us to understand the scope of the problem globally, expose underlying societal and cultural causes, and offer guidance for ways in which we as Pentecostals can work for societal transformation.
Parallel papers are invited to explore the nature of this issue historically and contemporarily in order to address how Pentecostals have biblically, theologically, philosophically, and practically understood and responded to the needs of women experiencing violence, as well as address how Pentecostals have and can bring meaningful change. Parallel sessions might explore the following: a Pentecostal anthropology and theology of human value in Scripture, Pentecostal readings of “gender violence” and subjugation texts in Scripture, mutuality and subjugation of women in the history and traditions of Pentecostalism, sociological explanations of the relationship between gender violence and culture, and constructive theological accounts that address the various dimensions of violence today. Presenters are invited to explore such challenges and respond within the parameters of their disciplines.
In light of the horrendous statistics of crimes agains women, the #MeToo movement exposes a controversy that can not be ignored. Pentecostals have engaged social issues since the beginning of the movement and the 2020 SPS conference invites members to explore the nature of violence against women historically and contemporarily in order to address how Pentecostals have biblically, theologically, philosophically, and practically understood and responded to the needs of women experiencing violence, as well as address how Pentecostals have and can bring meaningful change. The call for papers opens in just a few short weeks.
For expectations regarding presentations, including format, please see the Eligibilty to Submit a Proposal.