Church in Egypt gears up to address domestic violence

Cairo, EGYPT, 26 – 27 September 2018 (F2A) – Leaders of various churches in Egypt have freshly resolved to address domestic violence in communities of existence. Led by Ibrahimia Media Center in cooperation with Dr. Anne Coline from the Pentecostal Swedish Church, they committed the individual church leaders and members to respond fully to the needs of those who are suffering or have suffered from aspects of domestic violence, and to work with those who are perpetrating violence.

The key speaker during the workshop where also the Arabic version of toolkit titled “ending domestic violence – a pack for churches” was launched, was Rev. Fr. Thawfelos Lotfy. The workshop brought together Christian religious leaders to develop a coordinated response and increase the role of men in addressing domestic violence. “Most leaders in the church today are men, so this toolkit empowers both men and women to take responsibility and play key roles in preventing violence by intimate partners and family members,” explained Ms. Nagwa Eldeeb,  Project Manager at Ibrahimia Media Center.

The toolkit was launched after a two-days sensitization and awareness workshop for senior church leaders drawn from across Egypt. During the workshop, participants explored the dynamics of power in relationships that reflected on church culture and theology. “It is written ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:22), but many preachers misinterpret this to give men the right to punish or abuse their wives if they feel they aren’t being submissive,” said Rev. Bareh Haron , a leader in the Evangelical church in Alexandria, in the ensuing discussions. Fr. Sarabion clarified that to submit, in the context in which it appears in the Holy Bible, means a free choice taken in an environment of love.

Speaking while presenting findings from the Right By Her Report on the State of African Woman campaign, the International Advocacy Officer of Faith to Action Network, Vitalis Mukhebi, said legislation exists in Egypt but they are weakly implemented. “Although the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, the Criminal Code of 1937 and the famous Khula Law are in place, the country needs to establish policies and proactive strategies in order to bring lasting change,” he pointed out. “Religious leaders ought to be in the forefront of processes to develop these national strategies because a large number of people follow their advice especially on matters of social behavior,” he said.

The IMC will convene another workshop to empower senior Islamic Clerics to intervene against domestic violence. In this second workshop, Prof. Ahmed Ragab (Vice-chairperson of Faith to Action Network) will facilitate on medical interventions and Dr. Ibrahim Hodhod will speak on Islamic religious viewpoints. Both facilitators are senior faculty at the prestigious Al Azhar University.

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