WARNING: The content of this edition may be distressing to some readers. The main version of this edition contains line drawings showing the different types of female genital mutilation/cutting. We have produced an alternative version without these illustrations for more sensitive contexts, which you are welcome to download here.
This is the third and final part of our Footsteps series based on the biblical idea of jubilee. In the Old Testament, the jubilee year was intended for the restoration of the Israelites’ relationships with God, one another and the land. In this edition, we look at a topic where restoration, justice and healing are urgently needed: sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). This is one of the most damaging and widespread problems facing the world today.
But there is hope. I recently visited a church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that is part of an exciting initiative aimed at preventing SGBV. The church is running Tearfund’s Transforming Masculinities programme, looking at healthy ways men and women can relate to each other in the knowledge that we are all equal, made in the image of God.
The church’s pastors reported that violence between couples in their congregation had decreased since the programme started. I met with a husband and wife who were full of joy at the ways their relationship had been transformed. Participants had invited their friends and neighbours to take part, and the message was spreading fast.
There is much we can do both to prevent and respond to SGBV in our communities. This edition includes inspiring ideas from Paz y Esperanza in Latin America, who are empowering women economically to make them less vulnerable to SGBV. We feature practical ways of helping survivors of SGBV on their journey to healing. And we look at what really works to end female genital mutilation/cutting, which we at Tearfund consider to be a type of sexual violence committed against women.
I will end with some words from Sylvie, an inspiring survivor of SGBV from DRC: ‘Whatever you are going through, know that God is with you. Whatever happens, do not lose hope. The suffering is not the end of our lives. There are better things that God is preparing for us. I believe in that God.’
Sign up for our online and print magazine for grassroots development workers.