Episcopal Peace Fellowships’s position on Gender Based Violence is simple: We must seek to eliminate all forms of violence, whether interpersonal or systematic, if we want to live in a free, just, and loving society according to our baptismal covenant.
Gender Based Violence (GBV) is an overarching term used to describe the variety of interpersonal and systemic forms of violence used against those of oppressed gender identities. Most often the focus of GBV is limited to the interpersonal forms of violence and ignores the system in which this violence exists. This is an intentional strategy to distance individual acts of violence from the larger context of societal oppression, protecting the system from criticism and therefore destruction. This is why it is important for us to situate individual acts of violence within the existing structure that condones, celebrates, and enforces societal oppression.
Briefly, we exist in a patriarchal society that elevates men and masculinity while simultaneously subjugating women, femininity, and those who do not adhere to strict binary gender roles. The patriarchal structure is inherently violent and uses power and control over all people in society to maintain and enforce its rigid oppressive structure. For example, domestic violence and sexual assault are common in our society, and the majority of victims are women or gender nonconforming people while the majority of perpetrators are men. However, these interpersonal forms of violence exist within a larger societal context which blames the victims of this abuse by saying that victims want attention or money if they claim abuse or questions what they were wearing, why they were with the perpetrator, or why they were at a certain location. Victim blaming is designed to protect the individual abusers but also prevent the analysis of the larger social construct of GBV. In addition, there is a complete lack of accountability for most perpetrators who rarely receive any community or systemic justice. The vast majority of domestic and sexual violence cases do not lead to arrest, trial, conviction and sentencing.
Further, we exist in other oppressive structures, such as white supremacy and capitalism (among others). Understanding the intersectionality of GBV requires us to think critically about the roles of these different oppressive structures working together to create multiple and varied experiences of GBV. These experiences all depend on an individual’s identities, the community they exist in, and the systemic structures that affect their everyday lives. A current example of this is the treatment of migrant women in U.S. concentration camps where they are kept due to their gender, race, and class while experiencing specific GBV like sexual assaults and forced sterilizations.
Examples of Gender Based Violence:
• Domestic Violence
• Sexual Assault
• Child Abuse
• Street Harassment
• Sexual Harassment
• Human Trafficking
• Forced Sterilizations
• Forced Births
• Rape as an Act of War
• The Feminization of Poverty
• Mass Incarceration
• Police Brutality
Ultimately, what we can learn from analyzing GBV is that if there is violence at a societal and systemic level there will be violence in our interpersonal relationships as well. The violence in our interpersonal lives reinforces systemic violence. This cyclical understanding of violence compels us to have a more dialectical and radical approach to our anti-violence work.
Therefore, The Episcopal Peace Fellowships’s position on Gender Based Violence is simple: We must seek to eliminate all forms of violence, whether interpersonal or systematic, if we want to live in a free, just, and loving society according to our baptismal covenant.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Activism Against Gender Violence: https://episcopalchurch.org/posts/episcopalun/16-365-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence
Futures Without Violence www.futureswithoutviolence.org
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence www.ncdsv.org