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Press Release: Indian Christian Women Strongly Condemn Violence

Indian Christian Women Strongly Condemn Violence

We live in troubling times in India. Violence seems to have become the new culture in the country. We have not yet lived down the memory and grief caused by the rape and killing of 8-year old Asifa Bano in Kashmir and the rape of a 17-year old girl in Unnao in UP, to name just two very shocking cases. Additionally, we have witnessed many cases of mob violence in several parts of the country - the lynching of Muslims and Dalits over beef; or because others are suspected to be child abductors or child molesters. In these and other instances, the inaction of the police and other state authorities tend to indicate that this violence is orchestrated by a deeper nexus between communal and political forces.

In this situation, we as Christian women belonging to the Indian Christian Women’s Movement condemn all these incidents of violence and call on the government to ensure that such ideologically motivated violence is stopped and that the laws of the land are upheld. We ask that all victims and their families be adequately compensated and cared for, and perpetrators brought to book.

Our anguish is further compounded by recent events of sexual violence in our own Churches. We regret that while the leadership in our churches condemn violence against women in the country, they seem to condone violence within their own ranks and in religious institutions. They silence the victims; and by their own silence appear to be shielding perpetrators of violence in the churches, not unlike the inaction of the Indian government in the cases cited above. As Christian women in India, we stand united and call for action on violence to women in our churches and related religious institutions.

The media among others ask why the churches have not reacted to the reports of the alleged sexual abuse of women by ordained clergy (of two major church denominations) in Jallandhar and in Kerala. The seriousness and extent of the violence in these cases has left us in disbelief and shock. We call for immediate and stringent punitive measures to be taken against the concerned clergy men; and ask the churches to provide legal and pastoral support to the women victims in all cases. The time is now for the churches to demonstrate that they have zero tolerance of violence in any form, particularly of sexual violence.

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