Nelson Mandela Bay churches speak out on need to protect women and children

The church, which has a responsibility to support family life, is horrified by the continuous onslaught on the dignity of women in South Africa, of which’s “Naked News” is the most recent example, says the Nelson Mandela Bay Consultation of Christian Churches (NMBCCC).

The programme, in which women strip naked during a news bulletin, sexually objectifies women and is utterly insensitive in a society in which rape and abuse of women are a painful reality for many, says NMBCCC, which was launched recently to speak on behalf of churches in the metropole, says the NMBCC in a media statement released this week.

The church needs to protect women and children, who are the most vulnerable members of a society in which the rights of children to support, protection and nurture enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the rights of women to live productive, fulfilling lives free of abuse and sexual exploitation, are a pipe dream for many, says the NMBCCC.

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The recent research paper by the African Institute of Race Relations, “First Steps to Healing the South African Family,” gives a clear picture of the dire need for the support of children and women, especially women-as-mothers in our society, says the statment.  The study shows that the “typical” child in South Africa is raised by his or her mother in a single-parent household. Most children also live in households with unemployed adults. Poverty, violent crime and HIV/Aids deeply affects families and there is a sharp rise in the number of orphans and child-headed households as a result of the Aids pandemic.

Society needs to treasure the family. Without family where parenthood can flourish, children raised to be people of integrity and skill, and basic respect for the life and prosperity of others instilled, we face a bleak future. Without proper role-models, our youth lack a template for sound, respectful, mutually supportive lifestyles needed for society to prosper.

Society needs to value women and their important contribution to the well-being of our country. Stereotypes, such as sexual objectification of women, or the limitation of women’s rights to self-fulfilment by keeping them in roles subordinate to men, are extremely harmful to our well-being as families and as a nation.

The church recognises that it has an important role to play as a support-system for family life. This role needs to be carried out in a congregational and community context, as well as in a broader social context, says the NMBCCC.

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