[Episcopal Public Policy Network] In the gospel according to Matthew, Jesus, in the course of his public ministry, raises from the dead a young girl and heals an elderly woman; the old woman the poorest of the poor, the young girl the daughter of a privileged ruler, yet both suffered and needed God’s caring, healing love:
“Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.” –Matthew 9:22
The suffering of women and girls remains a crippling reality, and today a primary cause is gender-based violence.
This simple Gospel story resonates all too well with the modern tragedy of gender-based violence, which plagues one in three women worldwide–women and girls of all ages, all cultures, and all classes. Addressing gender-based violence may seem insurmountable or insignificant. But in the Gospel, Jesus defeats the insurmountable by resurrecting this girl who had died, and he honors those judged insignificant by society in healing this beggar. Jesus resurrects hope out of helplessness and calls us to do the same.
Around the world, women suffer disproportionately from gender-based violence, including domestic rape, genital mutilation, sexual exploitation, and honor killings. In some countries, gender-based violence impacts as many as 70 percent of women and girls.
This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives re-introduced the comprehensive International Violence Against Women Act of 2012 (IVAWA), designed to provide support and resources to empower women trapped in the cycles of gender-based violence. The Act would increase survivors’ access to health care, legal-reform services, and safe-reporting mechanisms. It would invest in improving education and economic opportunities for women and girls while raising public awareness campaigns to alter behavior and norms that precipitate gender-based violence.
The legislation integrates commitments to gender safety and equality into all U.S. foreign assistance programs. This commitment would enhance women’s economic opportunity, address violence against school girls, fight transmission and death from HIV and AIDS, and work to reform judicial responses to gender-based violence.
By supporting this important legislation, we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps to begin to heal and empower those whose bodies have been crushed or crippled.