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15th July, 2018

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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