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Women are gatvol yet hopeful! Southern African, ordained and lay Anglican women and scholars of religion met to summon the church to action. The descriptive Afrikaans word ‘Gatvol’ means ‘completely fed up and upset.’ ‘Gatvol’ sums up the fatigue, despair, anger, anguish and pain we continue to experience physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually as women. But we are here - again - because the unstoppable love of God, the witness of Jesus the Christ who treated women as equals, the empowering force of the Holy Spirit, give us courage and compel us onward. Because of this we have hope, we have agency we have resilience.
We gathered to “consider, take counsel and speak out” (the closing words of the gruesome biblical narrative of Judges 19, the story of a woman who was gang raped) against gender based violence, yet again. We lament that we have to do so, yet again.
We acknowledge that there has been “speaking out” in the past, but we wish to interrogate why this “speaking out” has not been enough to curb the pandemic of violence against those gendered as women, by those gendered as men. The 2017 Mothers Union Diocese of Cape Town protest march, included a request for action, “We have marched and prayed but we need something more tangible than symbolic marches” the women said. On 3 June 2017 twelve representatives of different women’s groups met with the Archbishop of Cape Town and appealed to him, “You declared apartheid evil and a sin, please declare gender-based violence to be evil and a sin as well.” Today we declare that patriarchy is not just a sin, but a heresy.
The purpose of this statement is to call for a deeper consideration by the Church of the insidious links between gendered belief systems and violence; of the violence of patriarchy reflected in the absence, ignoring or minimising of women’s voices in leadership, in promises made in synodical or other resolutions not followed up or not resulting in action, or broken promises.
The source of all gender based violence is patriarchy. Patriarchy prevents us from seeing a faithful picture of who God is, in God's identity and in God's compassion. In the gender binaries the dominance of masculine language and masculine images of God, priest and church, renders theology and society poverty stricken. We yearn and strive for the kin-dom of God, where justice for women is restored! A new, beloved community where all humans are affirmed as image bearers of the living God.