Theological studies in World YWCA’s ITI in South Korea

Reflection on Violence Against Women from the World YWCA International Training Institute in S. Korea.

By Kristin Sveinsdóttir a young woman from the YWCA of Iceland

The ITI in Korea was everything I hoped for and even more. We learned from each other and discussed violence against women and peace-building in each others countries and in the world.

Kristin Sveinsdottir

For me, the Theological sessions we started each day with, was a great way to set ground for the day and look at violence against women in a historical sense and in the book that unites us as Christians, the Bible.

In my opinion churches around the world have for sometime ignored this subject and the evidence of violence against women presented in the Bible. I feel it is crucial to open this subject if we are to eradicate women’s oppression in religion around the world.

We should look at the evidence of violence in the Bible and as well look at the evidence that shows that Jesus Christ did not accept this violence and he looked at all human beings through the eyes of equality.

Ana Villanueva, World YWCA Executive Coordinator, led us through the Theological sessions in a beautiful but focused way. In the first session she introduced us to a story from second Samuel, chapter eleven, where we hear about king David who desired a married women, sends men after her and forces her to sleep with him. She carries his child and to avoid consequences, David has her husband killed and takes her as a wife. What David did was evil in the eyes of God and he sends a prophet to him who makes David realize and regret his actions. All though David regrets his actions, this story is an example of a woman who has no power over her body and is raped. Evidence that she is force to come to King David is that he first sends a man to find out who this woman is and than he sends men (more than one) to bring her to him which means she had no chance to object.

Another clear example of violence against a woman is shown in chapter 13. There the Bible even uses the word rape. Amnon, son of king David, falls in love with his sister, Tamar and with a conspiracy with another man he manages to rape her. She is strong, says “No” and tries to argue with him, offers him a way out of this but for nothing.  She is not heard and is raped. Tamar’s kindness is used against her, she is abused, her dignity is taken away and when she seeks for help she is silenced, all caused by men close to her.

Out of all ITI participants, only one had heard the second story in church. The story is clear evidence of violence against women in the Bible but has been ignored by the majority of the church. Stories like this should be told to raise awareness of the severity of violence against women. Churches should not ignore this historical problem and by that continue the oppression on women in society and in religion.

It was not easy to read these stories as a Christian and accept this issue until we started to read about Jesus. Jesus was a true believer in gender equality and did not accept the gender-based oppression on women. He looked at all people as equals, created in the image of God, regardless of gender, class or race.

Let’s now act like Jesus :)