Women with disabilities take a stand against violence
“Women with disabilities are often excluded from the society, and are no longer seen as recipients of the gift of God,” said the Rev. Micheline K. Kamba at a recent World Council of Churches (WCC) conference. It is important, she said, to pray for action amidst the alarming situation of violence against women with disabilities.
Kamba, herself a person with a disability from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and member of the WCC Central Committee, works as a volunteer coordinator for French-speaking Africa for the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN), a project of the WCC.
It was at a recent EDAN conference which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from February 27 to March 2, that Kamba spoke about the marginalisation of women with disabilities, encouraging churches to be more proactive in protecting their rights.
“Most women with disabilities experience severe psychological problems. They have difficulty in seeing that God is on their side. They think they are cursed, and that they are ‘bad luck’ for the society,” said Kamba.
“There is great urgency that a solution is found in light of the WCC’s strong statement on seeking peace and reconciliation. It stresses that ‘real peace’ is possible when women who are crushed in their inner beings could find their ‘raison d’être’, the meaning of their existence,” said Kamba.
She went on to say that testimonies shared by women with disabilities at the WCC’s 9th Assembly in Brazil, 2006, and the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica, 2011, manifest such women’s vulnerability to abuse, harassment and rape.
“Therefore, peace, reconciliation and healing would take place when our efforts allow us to reconstruct a positive image of the survivor women with disabilities,” she noted.
“These efforts need to be accompanied by promoting ecumenical co-operation between women from different backgrounds. This awareness can empower women and help them to stand against all sorts of abuse,” concluded Kamba.
The EDAN conference invoked these reflections on “violence against women with disabilities” focusing on the prayer “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”, the theme of the WCC’s upcoming 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea.
The conference gathered around thirty international participants, including women with disabilities from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Burundi, Kenya, South Africa, Togo and the United Sates.
The event was hosted by “The Haven”, a shelter in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa which provides protection to victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Churches address violence against women with disabilities (WCC news release of March 8, 2013)
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