On 28th November 2017, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in India requested for valuable suggestions to end child abuse in the context of increasing abuse of violence on children in India. Stuti Kacker Chairperson of NCPCR in her request letter of 28th November 2017 states: “Sexual crime against children is showing an alarming increase and there is urgent need to tackle this problem on a war footing. Parliament has already brought a comprehensive Act namely ‘The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to punish those who commit sexual offences against children. However, there is a pressing need to formulate a broad based strategy to prevent such crime from occurring, which is only possible if all stakeholders namely children themselves, their parents, school administration, law enforcement agencies, NGOs and civil society etc. as a whole, create awareness and highlight the moral repugnancy of such crimes.”
When I was in school I watched a Hindi film know as ‘ Mirch Masala’ ( Chilli Powder) The film was directed by Ketan Mehta. It starred Naseruddin Shah and Smita Patil in the lead roles. The film is set in colonial in the early 1940s. The plot begins with an arrogant Indian local tax collector and with his henchmen exploiting villagers. The tax collector and his men were harassing women . The village headman who was not strong to oppose him even supplied him with women from the village for his pleasure. No one had courage to protest against such violence.
However the story takes a different turn when the tax collector boldly asks Sonbai a young woman from the village for sexual favours, and harassed her. Enraged, Sonabai, in an act of defense, slaps the tax collector. She then had to flee immediately with the soldiers and henchmen in hot pursuit.She takes refuge in a spice factory where red chillies are grounded into powder. The women of the village worked here. Sonabai and the women were supported by a watchman and male school teacher who strategize to end such violence.
Sonabai organized women in the factory and when the tax collector and his men raided the factory the women in factory mount a sudden and surprising defense. They attack the tax collector with freshly ground red chilli powder in teams of two. The film ends with the tax collector on his knees, screaming in pain as the chilli burns his face and eyes.
The situation of women and girls being ‘eve teased’, bullied, harassed and sexually abused has not changed in India. In fact such violence has increased. Now when women are no longer confined within homes and are out in the world, they face harassment and abuse schools, colleges and workplaces.
“Men and Boys should take action to end men’s gender based violence on women and girls” states Rev Dr Roger Gaikwad – General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India” ‘Towards Just and Inclusive Communities’ is NCC India’s Quadrennial Theme 2016-2020. Rev Dr Gaikwad states “We cannot build just and inclusive communities unless we seriously address the issue of violence on women and girls in India.”
Gender based violence and sexual violence has become pandemic in India. India 4th dangerous country in the world for women to live and girl child to survive. 53 percent of children in India face sexual abuse. Times of India reports every 20 minutes a woman or girl is raped in India. India witnesses one of the highest female infanticide incidents in the world as revealed in a first ever global study on female infanticide by Asian Centre for Human Rights, a Delhi-based NGO in 2016. The BBC reports about once every five minutes an incident of domestic violence is reported in India, under its legal definition of ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives.’
Gaikwad further states that “The sign of hope is some of our member churches and church leaders are engaging in various forms of ministry to end violence on women and girls. However we need to understand empowerment of women and girls alone is not solution to this problem. Men and boys can play crucial role to end gender based and sexual violence. Gender justice, gender equality and gender equity is not ‘women’s issue’ alone. We need to empower men and boys also regarding gender justice so that they understand the scale of the problem, and become part of the solution, alongside women. If women are empowered alone and not men violence on women will increase more”
Restrictive gender roles and stereotyped gender norms harm men as well as women, boys as well as girls though girls are more vulnerable. . Men and boys have a crucial role to play in creating a culture where male violence, abuse and harassment against women and girls are simply seen as unacceptable. Men also need to support survivors of gender based violence take a stand against gender violence in their workplaces, schools, communities and families.
In 2015 during Quadrennial Assembly of ‘All India Council of Christian Women’ (at present known as Women’s Concern Ministry of NCCI ) Rev Dr Gaikwad promoted ‘White Ribbon Campaign’. He invited men church heads and leaders to take action against violence on women and girls in their own home, church or society.
The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. It was formed by a group men in Canada in November 1991 as a response to the École Polytechnique massacre of female students who was shot dead by Marc Lépine . The campaign was intended to raise awareness about the prevalence of male violence against women. White Ribbon symbolizing “the idea of men giving up their arms and violence.” This campaign is active in many counties in the world. ‘White Ribbon Campaign’ is a the movement that seeks to promote healthy relationships, gender equity, and a compassionate vision of masculinity
Rev Dr Gaikwad opines “Discrimination and violence on women, girls and children betrays the teaching of Jesus. Jesus broke the silence regarding culture of gender based in his society . Jesus showed the world compassion to women and girls through positive masculinity as opposed to patriarchal masculinity. Hence it is prophetic duty of the church to promote such positive masculinity and empower men and boys to end violence on women and girls .”
In 2015 National Council of Churches launched ‘365 Zero Tolerance to Gender Based Violence: Make it Happen Now Campaign: Make it Happen Now !’ NCCI also conducts various Capacity Enhancement and Human Rights Training in partnership with member churches and ecumenical partners to promote gender mainstreaming. ‘Certificate Course for Gender Justice’ is one such initiative of Women’s Concerns Ministry is to train pastors and lay leader ,youth ,community leaders both male and female.
As we commemorate ‘16 Days of Activism Against Violence on Women and Girls Rev Dr Roger Gaikwad invites churches, congregations and individuals “TAKE ACTION NOW. DO NOT REMAIN SILENT REGARDING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE ,SEXUAL ABUSE OF WOMEN , GIRLS AND CHILDREN .”
#16 Days Activism @ NCCI
Reported by Moumita Biswas – Executive Secretary – Women Concerns Ministry – National Council of Churches in India
We had earlier published the plans and efforts of NCC Bangladesh in responding to the Rohingya Crisis, especially attending to the refugees in Bangladesh. We are now publishing this urgent appeal from NCC Bangladesh. We urge you this Christmas that you remember how Joseph and Mary along with baby Jesus had to flee their homeland and seek asylum in Egypt because of the massacre of King Herod’s army, and think of extending your support to the Rohingyas fleeing the massacre in Myanmar and taking refuge in Bangladesh.
You may directly contact Rev. David A. Das, General Secretary, NCC Bangladesh at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI
The colour of my skin is black and I love my body. My mother says my eyes are dark and bright as the doe and I am lovely. But yet I faced discrimination in school because of my body and colour of my skin by my teachers and peers. Though majority of Indians have brown, dark brown and dark skin yet women and girls with lighter skin are regarded beautiful.
Whenever there was school function, plays or dance drama the fairer and thinner girls were given chance to be main characters in the play or dance drama. Talent was not the criteria of selection. Girls like me with darker skin were discriminated and not given opportunities. However boys with darker skin did not share the same plight as girls. Dark skinned boys were regarded as handsome. I always felt rejected. I lost self confidence, had low self esteem and I became an introvert person. This affected my academic performance in school. Teachers ridiculed me and called me ‘dumb’. My teachers failed to realize psychological abuse and discrimination is also a form of gender based violence.
Even now when I go for my tuition classes many boys tease me calling me names like ‘Kalla Khatta’ ( Black and Sour), ‘Moti Kali’ ( Black fat woman ) and even use sexist language. Eve teasing is quite common phenomenon in India and culture of gender based violence exists in our country.
It took me a long time to gain back my confidence which was broken by my teachers in school. My parents helped me to gain my confidence as they reminded me ‘I am beautiful created in image of God’. My involvement in various Sunday School and youth group activities in our church helped me to discover my own leadership qualities and talents. Galatians 3:38 inspired me “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”Today I am proud of who I am.
There are many like me in India who face discrimination because of stereotyped gender norms which moulds minds of people and culture. In India girls with darker skin becomes often burden for their parents. In an arranged marriage system which still prevails in India parents have to pay more dowry during marriage for their daughters with darker skin.
The media also portrays women with lighter skin and thin body as beautiful. Whitening creams have been promoted through racist advertising. For years, advertisers of skin-lightening creams and other products have shown people — mostly women — with dark skin as having problems when it comes to finding jobs, getting married and generally being accepted by society. The makers of these advertisement include behemoths like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble . The so-called ‘Fairness Cream’ industry in India is booming .There is even a fairness cream named ‘ Fair and Lovely’. I strongly believe advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour.
As youth leader I feel church can play a crucial role in deconstructing stereotyped gender norms, ideologies and transform mindset of people. I often wonder why is colour white always associated with purity and black is regarded as dirty or evil. Even today we sing in the church ‘Jesus like lily pure and white’. All colours are created by God are beautiful. From childhood we are conditioned about an arche type image of Jesus as man with light skin in white robe. We are hardly taught to imagine Jesus as an Asian man with sun tanned dusky brown skin. His clothes must have been soiled with mud and dirt as he traveled from place to place. Just as white – Black is also beautiful.
25th November is the UN Declared International Day International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence begins on 25 November and end on 10 December, Human Rights Day.
16 Days of Activism Campaign provides me the opportunity to share my story. I have pledged ‘Because I Am Precious in God’s Eyes – I will not Keep Silent about Gender Based Violence and Sexual violence ’. I invite all of you to join this campaign and ‘Break the Silence’ and ‘Take Action’ to end any sorts of gender based violence whether in our home, school, church or society.
(Shyreeti Daveena is a young adolescent girl an active youth church leader – residing in Nagpur and is studying class XI )
#16 Days of Activism@ Shyreeti Daveena
Women’s Concerns Ministry ,
National Council of Churches in India
‘Water for life’ –
Joint program of VCLC- National Council of Churches in India and the EWN-World Council of Churches
3rd November 2017 | NCCI Campus, Nagpur.
A one-day consultation on ‘Water for life’ was organized in the NCCI Campus on the 3rd of November 2017. It was a joint program of the Vidarbha Centre for Labour Concerns – National Council of Churches in India VCLC – NCCI) and Ecumenical Water Network – World Council of Churches (EWN – WCC). The 50 participants in the consultation were from the Church of North India, Mar Thoma Church, and the Orthodox Seminary, from faith-based organizations and also people (people of different faith traditions) from Butibori – MIDC and Totladoh who have been affected by developmental activities in the region. NCCI Secretaries and Interns also participated in this consultation.
The major focus of the program was on the International, National and Local issues of the Water Crisis as water is being commoditized and therefore this natural resource is made available unequally.
Women’s Concerns Ministry of National Council of Churches invites member Churches, Church managed organizations and institutions and Women’s Fellowship of Member Churches to promote 16 Days Activism Campaign to end Gender Based Violence. 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
The main aim of this campaign is galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.The Theme for 2017 is “Together We Can End Gender Based Violence in Education!”
Women’s Concerns Ministry
National Council of Churches in India.
“Reformation is a Process and we need to adopt and adapt to…”
said Fr. Peter, a Catholic Rector at the Ecumenical Commemoration of 500 Years of Reformation.
The Churches and the Christian Communities and Organisations in Nagpur gathered together at the All Saints Cathedral of the Church of North India in Nagpur, to participate in a commemorative Eucharist worship on 31st October 2017 at 6.30 pm. remembering Martin Luther and his colleagues, who advocated reformation in the Church 500 years ago on the same day.
Over hundred people, including persons with disabilities, clerics, theologates, mission and social workers, participated in this ecumenical worship representing different ecclesial confessions from Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, Church of North India, and Free Church Traditions.
NCCI –IDEA (Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment) is an Ecumenical Initiative of National Council of Churches in India accompanied by Unity and Mission. NCCI – IDEA theologically motivates ministerial interventions of its constituencies in encouraging and facilitating the Indian Churches to be inclusive and disabled-friendly. Considering the importance of inclusivity, the XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI has chosen a theme ‘Towards… Just and Inclusive Communities for this Quadrannum thus, the Members of NCCI would be encouraged to ensure that their ministerial interventions result in inclusivity.
Since 2009 the Disability Advocacy Sunday (DAS) is being organized by NCCI – IDEA along with ecumenical organizations, local congregations and institutions. NCCI-IDEA has been a facilitator of conversations with communities in Church and Society in regard to advocacy for disability rights. The recently concluded interfaith roundtable on disability has propelled the work with significant stride towards just and inclusive communities. Considering the importance of observing this day, the NCCI Executive Committee in 2011 officially approved of designating the Sunday before the Advent as DAS, since 3rd December the International Day of People with Disability.
From its inception, DAS has focused on ‘An Inclusive Church’, through its sermons, urging the Church, to move from being charitable, to becoming an accompanier seeking justice ‘for’, ‘by’ and ‘with’ persons with disabilities . Surveying the past celebrations and the positive responses from the Churches and the local congregations to the observance of DAS, NCCI-IDEA expects that the congregations have become more open to PWDs and more Disabled-friendly.
This year Churches and the Congregations are encouraged to contemplate on the theme: ‘Creator of the disabled, reform your creation’. Persons with disabilities reflect God’s image and likeness. Hence, we are praying to this Creator God to reform creation through the persons with disabilities, with the 500th year of reformation as the background.
Every year, NCCI – IDEA assists the Churches and the Congregations with the Order of Worship for DAS observances. Since 26th November 2017 is the Sunday prior to the Advent season, IDEA recommends to churches to observe it as DAS. In case you are not able to observe the DAS on 26th November, please feel free to observe any Sunday that is convenient to you and your congregations.
We are glad to inform you that the NCCI-IDEA have already planned to celebrate ‘Christmas of the Disabled’ on 3rd December 2017. Therefore, we encourage you to organize and celebrate along with us in your respective Churches and Congregations.
Kindly, share with us the inspirational stories and the divine interventions through the DAS 2017 in your Church or Congregation.
With Prayer and Wishes,
|Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Director, NCCI – IDEA
|Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde
Coordinator, NCCI – IDEA
|Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh
|Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary, NCCI
(Vatican Radio) October 31st 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the day on which German theologian Martin Luther published his 95 theses, setting in motion the events of the Protestant Reformation.
To mark the occasion, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation on Tuesday issued a joint statement, giving thanks for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation and recalling the commemorative events that have taken place over the past year.
Exactly one year ago, Pope Francis travelled to the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo to take part in a joint commemoration of the Reformation alongside leaders of the Lutheran World Federation. A moving liturgy in the ancient Lund cathedral and a joyful celebration of young people in Malmo arena focused on asking forgiveness for the sins of past centuries, while also celebrating the progress of the last fifty years and pledging to step up joint efforts in the service of those most in need.
Commitment to continue the ecumenical journey
One year on, today’s statement recalls those historic events, in particular the commitment by Pope Francis and former LWF president Bishop Munib Younan to continue the ecumenical journey.
The statement says the shared journey of the past fifty years has resulted in “the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements”.
While Catholics and Lutherans can still not share at the Eucharistic table, the two Churches acknowledge their “joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ “.
New insights into Reformation
Commemorating the Reformation together in many countries around the world, the statement says, has allowed Lutherans and Catholics new insights into events of the 16th century which led to their separation. Noting the theological progress that was made through the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the statement says growing communion and shared service are a sign of hope for the world of today to overcome divisions and fragmentation.
The statement concludes with a commitment to continue the journey towards unity, guided by God’s Spirit, in the knowledge that “what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us”.
Please find the full statement below:
Joint Statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the conclusion of the year of the common commemoration of the Reformation, 31st October 2017
On 31st of October 2017, the final day of the year of the common ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation, we are very thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, a commemoration that we have shared together and with our ecumenical partners globally. Likewise, we begged forgiveness for our failures and for the ways in which Christians have wounded the Body of the Lord and offended each other during the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation until today.
We, Lutherans and Catholics, are profoundly grateful for the ecumenical journey that we have travelled together during the last fifty years. This pilgrimage, sustained by our common prayer, worship and ecumenical dialogue, has resulted in the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements. In the face of so many blessings along the way, we raise our hearts in praise of the Triune God for the mercy we receive.
On this day we look back on a year of remarkable ecumenical events, beginning on 31st October 2016 with the joint Lutheran – Catholic common prayer in Lund, Sweden, in the presence of our ecumenical partners. While leading that service, Pope Francis and Bishop Munib A. Younan, then President of the Lutheran World Federation, signed a joint statement with the commitment to continue the ecumenical journey together towards the unity that Christ prayed for (cf. John 17:21). On the same day, our joint service to those in need of our help and solidarity has also been strengthened by a letter of intent between Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service.
Pope Francis and President Younan stated together: “Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”
Among the blessings of this year of Commemoration is the fact that for the first time Lutherans and Catholics have seen the Reformation from an ecumenical perspective. This has allowed new insight into the events of the sixteenth century which led to our separation. We recognize that while the past cannot be changed, its influence upon us today can be transformed to become a stimulus for growing communion, and a sign of hope for the world to overcome division and fragmentation. Again, it has become clear that what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us.
We rejoice that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, solemnly signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999, has also been signed by the World Methodist Council in 2006 and, during this Commemoration Year of the Reformation, by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. On this very day it is being welcomed and received by the Anglican Communion at a solemn ceremony in Westminster Abbey. On this basis our Christian communions can build an ever closer bond of spiritual consensus and common witness in the service of the Gospel.
We acknowledge with appreciation the many events of common prayer and worship that Lutherans and Catholics have held together with their ecumenical partners in different parts of the world, as well as the theological encounters and the significant publications that have given substance to this year of Commemoration.
Looking forward, we commit ourselves to continue our journey together, guided by God’s Spirit, towards the greater unity according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. With God’s help we intend to discern in a prayerful manner our understanding on Church, Eucharist and Ministry, seeking a substantial consensus so as to overcome remaining differences between us. With deep joy and gratitude we trust “that He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).
Source: Vatican Radio – en.radiovaticana.va (http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/10/31/catholics,_lutherans_mark_500th_anniversary_of_reformation/1346149)
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