GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND THE CLIMATE THAT FUELS IT
Violence against women is a violation of Human Rights, perpetuated over centuries and expressed in different ways, according to the context. It occurs in all ambits of life and at any age. Examples of male violence have been systematically made invisible, silenced and to a large degree, assumed by society, up to the point of living with the problem, tolerating it and even justifying it. In Spain we have accounted for nearly 1000 women murdered over 14 años, 40.000 denunciations for gender violence per year. In 2017 fifty five women and five daughters and sons of theirs have been murdered, within their family circle. To this must be added the cases of recurring enforced rapes. It is common knowlege, even without taking into account cases of rape ocurring in the family environment, that are not normally denounced, over a thousand women are raped every year in Spain, which means that a woman is raped every eight hours.
This data is a clear example of a generalised social tolerance in the light of this type of violence excercised against women, in a context of shortfalls and failures to act by institutions that, designed to guarantee the rights of all citizens, respond with passivity, without adequate policies, with insufficient means and without the slightest symptom that the matter seriously worries them.
It cannot be said that society is unaware of these assaults but the question is established in the mainstream culture as something “that happens”, that society tolerates, and at the very least, pretends it is unaware of what is happening in its neighbourhood. Only a minority is conscious of this and it is horrified: it is the women who demonstrated in the streets of Madrid and other cities on 25th November 2017 to the shout of we want to be whole!
Spain throughout History has generated a very strong symbolic, religious, cultural and political power that has permeated society. The idea that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has about women, is that we are inferior beings and that our nature and destiny is that of maternity. Biological differences are invoked to authenticate the destiny of women and reduce it to the domestic environment. Our corporeality, our desires, our autonomy, our decisions are ignored by the misogynistic patriarchal Catholic hierarchy. For them, we are women to have offspring, bring them up and look after them, devoted mothers, accomodating and submissive wives, obedient daughters and sisters and all this as the will of God. By way of example, some phrases in the mouths of a few prelates:
The Archbishop of Granada: “get married and be submissive”, or “killing a helpless child gives men a license to abuse a woman’s body”
Mgr Rouco Varela: “the true family basis is a man and a woman, loving each other until death”
Mgr Jaime Pujol Archbishop of Tarragona: “the person you must care for most is your husband. He is the smallest child of the house”
Parish Priest of a church in Tarragona: “women’s duty is to be at home and be submissive to their men…, like MARY”
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church fuels the maintenance of the patriarchal and heteronormative system responsible for generating blames and fears, denying rights and liberties. This is why, we as grassroots Christians feel the urgency of raising our voice to make a clear, radical, public denunciation of this social scourge that the institutional Church silences, tolerates and even practices in its own interchurch environments, repeating moralist slogans inherited from the past, directed fundamentally at the domestic scene, to foster in women docility and submission with the object of improving harmony to benefit the unity of the family, forever sacred and at whatever price.
The leaders of the Catholic Church, and the clergy in general, except for a minority, continue practicing a policy of excluding women, considering them subordinates in all areas, including the properly ecclesiastical areas.
And when they speak, it is all too often intoning a very reactionary discourse like that which is underlying in what the bishops call “gender ideology”, and which is nothing more than an a weapon to disown and deligitimise the affective-sexual differences of LGTBI persons and scorn their rights and those of women, favouring discrimination and the existing climate of gender violence that women and LGTBIs are suffering.
As the Committee for Secularism of Cristianas y Cristianos de Base de Madrid CCBM (grassroots christians of both sexes), in the light of this situation, we can only proclaim loud and clear: NO MORE!! No more being accomplices of the silence with regard to male violence, of whatever type. We are conscious of the existing inequalities and discriminations and we demand public policies, resources and qualified professionals for the erradication of male violence and the battery of women. No more discriminations in work, educational and civil ambients. No more exclusions in the ambit of the priesthood, of the government of the Church and the ecclesiastical ministries. No more violence against women, however and wherever it is expressed. This is our cry!
Secularism Committee of CCBM, Madrid, January 2018
CCBM is a member group of Redes Cristianas, itself a member group of INGO
known in Spain as Red Europea Iglesia por la Libertad
Translation by Hugo Castelli Eyre, 5/2/2017