BY Imam Dr. Rashied Omar – Gender Justice is an integral part of the vision and mission of Claremont Main Road Mosque (CMRM). To this end, we are committed to upholding the struggle for the full dignity, honour and equality of women in our country, our communities, our workplaces, our homes, our schools, and our places of worship. We recognise that these are all spaces where women’s rights and dignity are routinely violated through acts of violence that range from rape and femicide to other forms of physical, emotional, sexual and economic abuse.
Thus during these 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women Campaign (25 November-10 December), CMRM once again re-affirms our solidarity with victims of gender-based violence and we renew our commitment to take collective responsibility to end the scourge of Violence Against Women and Children in our society. We believe that the struggle for No Violence Against Women and Children is an urgent ethical and socio-political imperative of our times. It is central to the broader ideals of social justice and full human equality and dignity for which we strive. Acts of Violence Against Women and Children (VAW) destroy the social fabric of our society, and it is the collective responsibility of all consciencious citizens to fight this plague in our society.
While we know that many factors coalesce in acts of VAW, we believe that VAW is one of the most profound indicators of male power over women – the most definitive evidence of the pervasive effects of patriarchy in our society. According to Dr. Naeemah Abrahams, a researcher at the Medical Research Council (MRC) who addressed the CMRM congregation on Friday 27 November 2015, social norms that accept male dominance and norms that accept violence are the two main contributing factors to VAW. Surveys done by the MRC and other researchers show that men and boys with more rigid views about masculinity are more likely to report having used violence against their partners. Women who are more accepting of these same norms are also more likely to be abused. She proposed that interventions that promote gender equality and specifically challenge normative patriachal practices, are critical in our struggle against VAW.
Taking up this struggle, we call on our faith communities especially to engage critically and deeply with our various approaches to gender relations, the ways that we foster acceptable norms for people , the gender values we implicitly promote through our concrete communal actions and ritual forms, as well as our vigilance towards potential sexual predators within our communities. We call on our faith communities to be self-consciously critical about patriarchal practices, in our homes and places of worship, that violate women’s rights, dignity and honour.
Furthermore, to mitigate against this violence, we call on all our communities to challenge hegemonic prescriptions of masculinity and femininity and allow for more fluid ideas of masculinities and femininities’ to be nurtured. We call on our communities to work together to protect and help the vulnerable members of society from becoming victims of violence and to co-operate with law-enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to justice. For people of faith – whatever our tradition – VAW must serve as a sobering reminder of our need to continue to witness to justice and commit to building a non-sexist South Africa.
Claremont Main Road Mosque urges all religious leaders from all denominations to use their weekly sermons and teachings to raise awareness amongst their congregants and to sensitize them to the need for eradicating the scourge of gender-based violence in our society.