Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Thu, 15/12/2011 – 09:08
Year A (2010-2011)
Bible Book: 2 Samuel
Chapter: 13
Verse: 1 – 20
Text: 2 Samuel 13:1-22

In the last week we celebrated another Human Rights Day. It was the end of another 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. It is easy to think that these special campaigns and days make no difference. In the news we read about rape of young women, even rape by members of the police. According to UNAIDS, “Young women are particularly vulnerable to HIV, accounting for 64% of infections among young people worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women make about 70% of young people living with HIV.”

It is tempting to say that these are ‘new’ things, that it is because of Westernisation, or the over sexualisation of our society. On the other side we can say these things are caused by ‘culture’ or rather by the misuse of culture.

However, rape and abuse of individual’s rights are nothing new. We read a story of gender based violence and abuse of rights in 2 Samuel 13:1-22. We are often tempted to ignore these texts in the Bible. If we are courageous, we can use these text to help us deal with our challenges.

This challenging text is used in the “Tamar Campaign: Contextual Bible Study Manual on Gender-based Violence”, where Pamela Cooper-White writes as follows:

“In Tamar’s story we find a rape which combines elements of incest and domestic violence. There is a conspiracy of men aiding and abetting the perpetrator of the crime and a male conspiracy of silence after the act. Finally, there is a raw form of retribution in the end but this brutal act of revenge is done quite apart from the victim. All power to act or even to speak is taken away from Tamar. In the end, the father to all three of the principle characters in this drama as well as all his servants are seen to mourn by wailing and weeping ‘very bitterly’ day after day, not for the victim, but for the rapist and the rapist’s brother.”

  • Tamar was sexually assaulted, not by a stranger, but by someone she knew;
  • The violation took place not in a desolate remote place at the hands of a stranger, but by a member of her own family in his home;
  • Tamar was exploited through one of her most vulnerable traits-her kindness, her culturally instilled obedience and her upbringing to take care of the other;
  • Tamar said ‘No’ and her ‘No’ was not respected;
  • When Tamar sought help she was told to hush it up;
  • The process for achieving justice and restitution was taken out of her hands entirely and carried forward by her brother. No other women are even recorded in this story as having a voice or a role in coming to Tamar’s aid. It became men’s business; and
  • In the end, it was Tamar’s perpetrator for whom her father mourned not for her. In fact, the end of Tamar’s story happens without her.”
    Maybe this “silence”, this “absence” of the key person in the story is the true brokenness of gender based violence.

She carries on to say:
“Tamar is someone whose story is still very modern:

  • Tamar was sexually assaulted, not by a stranger, but by someone she knew;
  • The violation took place not in a desolate remote place at the hands of a stranger, but by a member of her own family in his home;
  • Tamar was exploited through one of her most vulnerable traits-her kindness, her culturally instilled obedience and her upbringing to take care of the other;
  • Tamar said ‘No’ and her ‘No’ was not respected;
  • When Tamar sought help she was told to hush it up;
  • The process for achieving justice and restitution was taken out of her hands entirely and carried forward by her brother. No other women are even recorded in this story as having a voice or a role in coming to Tamar’s aid. It became men’s business; and
  • In the end, it was Tamar’s perpetrator for whom her father mourned not for her. In fact, the end of Tamar’s story happens without her.”
    Maybe this “silence”, this “absence” of the key person in the story is the true brokenness of gender based violence.

To think about: How can faith communities give a voice to people who are silent in gender based violence?

Author: van Rooyen L (Ms)
Language: English

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