When I say that I do not want us to ‘return to church’, some people get all kinds of ideas in their heads. But I think ‘returning to church’ for Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean could be legitimately interpreted as returning to the same status quo that refuses to emphasize justice and equity for all.
Sexual justice is especially needed to stop the onslaught of violence against our women and girls. According to UN WOMEN, “one in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation” (para.1). Before the pandemic 243 million women and girls, aged 15-49 experienced sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner in the past year. Since the pandemic, violence against women, especially domestic violence has intensified.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified. The UN WOMEN organization says that “This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it”(para.3).
Although I may have shared this before, it is troubling that my mother, sisters, daughter, female friends, female colleagues, the average female that I encountered in the last two weeks, all experienced some kind of physical or sexual violence in their lives. And faith groups ought not to go back to this type of ‘normal’ where we go to church but leave the sexual justice of our women and girls to miracles or only the state and NGOs.
Theologically, we have a responsibility to treat our women and girls justly. God created women in God’s image. The writer of Genesis plainly expressed this when he states, “Then God said, “Let us make humankind (adam) in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion… And God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. This Hebrew term adam is generic and it stands for humanity, which is composed of both males and females (Genesis 1:26–27). Genesis 5:2-3 reaffirms this.
As faith groups, we have the responsibility to call out those abuses of our women and girls despite COVID-19. Jeremiah 22:3 is clear: “This is what the LORD says: Administer justice and righteousness…Do not exploit or brutalize…the widow, and by extension all women and girls.
Rev Vonnie James, Grenada Baptist Association