Actionable Next StepsCommon Good
A collection of next-steps to keep this conversation alive
Tragically, the violence against women and children of late August and early September 2019 are not once-offs. Even as the nation mourned the senseless loss of life, as thousands protested, still more women were raped, killed and abused. Action is needed. Real action.
With an issue as all-pervasive and deeply rooted as violence against women and children, there is no ‘silver bullet’, no formula that, when applied, will eradicate all violence. But that does not mean we sit idly by. The book When helping hurts gives a helpful framework as to types of actions or interventions and how they can work together to best engage. They propose three types of action: Relief, Rehabilitation and Development.
Relief is providing urgent and temporary emergency aid to reduce immediate suffering in a crisis situation
Rehabilitation seeks to restore people to the positive elements they had before the crisis
Development seeks to change the system to reduce the likelihood of the crisis continuing
In the context of violence against women, relief takes the form of immediate care and support of victims/survivors. The immediate counseling of survivors, the medical needs, the immediate safety of the woman are all part of providing immediate relief. It does not prevent violence, but it ministers immediate care that is so desperately needed.
Rehabilitation would be providing the care and support women need to return to flourishing again. Knowing how many women are trapped in abusive relationship because of financial need, supporting women to find work or study further are ways that rehabilitation can take place. Women may need a different place to stay in order to be safely distant from the perpetrator. Rehabilitation does not prevent violence against women from happening, but helps to prevent it happening again to the same women. Another avenue of rehabilitation is mentoring/training/working with offenders to reduce the likelihood of them repeating their crimes.
Development would seek to change some of the laws and processes that hinder women reporting, improving the legal processes of prosecution, trial and sentencing, for example. Similarly, addressing misogyny and sexist jokes, behavior and attitudes in others is part of changing public or cultural norms. This is not a short–term answer but is part of changing the worldview. This can be both proactive (deliberately addressing worldviews that diminish the value of women; preparing young people) and reactive (challenging what people say and do as and when it occurs). It could include lobbying or joining advocacy movements that seek to improve the justice system for violent crimes.
You might find yourself immobilized by the scale of the problem, believing you are unable to contribute. As you look at these three categories of actions, you may find that there is something you can do with what you have, with the skills, influence and resources you have available. What follows are some ideas (by no means everything) that can be part of your next steps.
Prayerfully discern what actions you can take to be part of building a shared future that is safe for our women and children.
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