With the seventh highest rate of violence against women in the world, Brazil seriously needs to address its gender issues.
In an often traditional and male-dominated society, the Church has a key part to play in changing social attitudes to protect women.
Raising public awareness
Paulo Ueti, a Brazilian theologian and campaigner against gender based violence (GBV), works with our partner, SADD (Anglican Service of Diakonia and Development). Last year they campaigned for a new law to protect women at all levels of society.
‘We wanted the Church, theologians, and people of faith to be behind the document and ask the President publicly not to veto it. And thanks to God, this is what happened.’
Despite this success, Paulo believes that the law is only the first step to raising public awareness of GBV.
‘In Brazilian culture domestic violence is a private thing. The question is: how do you make this public? Because it is a public matter; it’s about health, dignity and human rights.’
According to Paulo, to change traditional attitudes towards women, we have to look at the Bible differently.
He said: ‘We can read the Bible and see that most of the women were oppressed – but they were not passive. They had power and they used that power to change society and the men around them.’
SADD’s pastoral work and refuge centre have helped thousands of GBV survivors to improve their situations.
Through advocacy and campaigning, they can influence government policy on gender at the highest level. By exploring new ways of looking at the Bible and involving women in community projects, SADD helps give women the voice they deserve.
The role of the Church
The Church is important in Brazilian society, giving it unique access into home life and providing an opportunity to reach people where the state cannot.
‘Gender based violence is not only confined to the house, but is also carried out in the Church, in the name of God,’ says Paulo.
‘It is the role of the Church to rediscover what Jesus did; to reread the Bible and see how violence and death can be faced and overcome, and how a new kind of society can be built.’
Hear more from Paulo about SADD’s work and the importance of the Church in overcoming GBV: