“Wives submit unto your husbands, as unto the lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ so let wives be subject to husbands in everything.”
The above religious verse from the Bible was recently placed by GenderLinks activists as amongst the contradictory statements that have been misinterpreted by societies to provide men with opportunities to carry out gender based violence on their women and children.
“In Christianity, there is a rising tendency amongst people to misquote the Bible or misinterpret the Psalms in the Bible for their own advantage. They attach meaning that suits their individual belief and justify their horrendous actions by referring to it,” said Rev Eddie Rantshilo, executive secretary of the Bible Society of Botswana.
To an untrained eye, he said, the above quote could promote discrimination and violence against women but a qualified priest would provide an in-depth analysis as to what is really meant by the quote.
“Yes, the verse is directed at women, but on the same note there is also a verse directed at men as well. The chapter talks about roles of men and women in general,” said Rantshilo.
Religion is said to have been used frequently across SADC countries as an excuse for different religious groups to discriminate and belittle women.
The church, as a religious institution, should take the lead in directing men and women towards behavior that is appropriate and acceptable from a religious perspective in order to curb the loss of lives. The church is also viewed as a stakeholder in fighting gender based violence as it preaches religious teachings and practices that could ensure a safe and secure nation.”
The above statements were made by a group of concerned men and women from different local churches who attended the discussions held on the linkages between Gender Based Violence (GBV) and religion.
The congregation was established to discuss the extent to which religion perpetuates gender based violence and what role religion can play in addressing issues of gender based violence.
The discussion, a product of a joint effort by the local branch of the international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Gender Links and Botswana Council of Churches (BCC), was held as a part of the commemoration for the sixteen days of activism against violence on women and children.
The annual commemoration has been running since the 25th of November and is expected to end on the 10th of December.
“The church is partly to blame for what is currently happening in the world, therefore it should be at the forefront on efforts to seek peace for abused women and children because some of its teachings have been misinterpreted by society and this has led to women being discriminated against and abused,” said Warona Tlamelo,a gender Links activist.