By Gilbert Ekezie
The Christian Council of Nigeria, (CCN) has acknowledged being aware of the increasing occurrences of crimes and evils in every part of the world today. It also said that it is particularly familiar with the increasing rate of violence against women and girls that is registered in recent time, as a result of the increasing poverty and sufferings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ever-raging fight for survival among Communities and religions.
Speaking during the kick off of The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative of the Christian Council of Nigeria in collaboration with UNICEF on ‘The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Ending Violence Against Women Girls,’ held at Surulere, Lagos recently.
President of CCN, Most Rev. Benebo Fubara Fubara- Manuel who spoke on behalf of the Council, said that everyone is aware that the present state of insecurity, hunger , economic down turn and other vices in Nigeria, have not been helped by the neo-liberal capitalism that is controlling the economic front in almost every part of the world, the corruption and nepotism that are woven into almost every political, social and cultural setting of the world today.
He said there can be no doubt that religious patriachal systems long embedded into the fabric of faith confessions of the most dominant religions of the world today, have given a supposedly ‘godly’ blessing to violence against women and girls.
Fubara-Manuel explained that reading of the Bible , with it’s concerns for justice and peace, and by watching of example of Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, do not permit us to follow heedlessly in the path of these controlling global powers.”If we must serve the living God alone, and be the best examples of the Christian faith, even if we must stand against a history within our tradition, then, we must question and challenge every form of violence against women and girls.”
He stated that Jesus Christ was born of a woman and lived a life on earth as a child under the care of loving parents, but knew in his own child hood experience, the evil of the violence of adults, especially that of King Herod. Yet, he grew up with girls and worked with women to preach and demonstrate the love of the kingdom of God in the life of all. “Jesus Christ adjusted the social role of women in his time, loved them and worked with them in spite of the explosive and sensitive setting in which he ministered. He challenged the stereotypes against women by showing them as reliable witnesses, and even used them as the first witnesses to the most crucial event of his ressurrection and presented them as worthy of love and care.”
According to him, the example of Jesus stands against every form of marginalization of women and girls today. This, he said, is a strong guide to the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), in its pursuit of social justice and it’s manifestation of the Kingdom of God in the world today. ‘The Christian Council of Nigeria, the oldest Protestant ecumenical body in Nigeria , with over fifty million members and one of the five families that make up the Christian Association of Nigeria , has agreed to work in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), on the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on the Role of Faith-Based Organizations in ending violence against Women and Girls, focussing particularly on the role of the church.
“We have joined this collaboration because we realize that violence against women and girls, is not what the churches or faith-based organizations can solve alone. Rather, it calls for multilateral efforts and initiatives, and every form of support, is a move in the right direction.”
The CCN President affirmed that the collaboration becomes necessary because CCN is not convinced that the government of Nations of the world are sufficiently tackling the challenges of violence against women and children. “The political and social systems are not skewed in the of women and girls, but rather against them. The religious systems worsen their plight, even when claiming to be agents of liberation. We regret all these and set ourselves in the part of change. We commit, therefore, to directly, personally and communally opposing all systems of marginalization that we have inherited,vset up or are presently designing.”
The Cleric assured that CCN is committed in promoting practices and establishing institutions that would allow women and girls to flourish in all ways- spiritually, physically, sexually, emotionally and psychologically.
He said the collaboration between
CCN and UNICEF started in phase from April through June, 2021, with Sokoto, Adamawa, Abuja, Lagos, Ebonyi and Cross Rivers, as focal states. “We shall collectively seek to reject all forms of abuse of women and girls, including women’s forced Domestication, discrimination in religious, political and social settings, girl child neglect, exploitation, abuse, trafficking and all shades and colours of violence against women and girls.
“We name Violence Against Women and Girls as a real evil confronting all communities of our country today. In these months, we shall expose all forms of it and re-examine the existing policies of all the bodies to which we belong, and the policies of our nation, with a view to discerning whether or not these policies perpetuate violence against women and girls in any form.
“We shall engage in the selected focal states and Local Government Areas in street rallies and meet Christian leaders who can initiate positive changes in this regard. We shall train Vanguards of Justice, everywhere we go. We call on religious leaders to join hands with us in this work. Churches should also prioritize this in their liturgy and join us in ending Violence Against Women and Girls.”