Lutheran leader urges churches to discuss violence against women

(Photo: Lutheran World Federation/Peter Williams)Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, addresses United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees dialogue with faith-based organizations in Dec. 2012.

Lutheran World Federation leader, Rev. Martin Junge, has urged churches in the 70-million strong grouping to openly discuss violence against women following global outrage over a recent rape in India.

"Silence around violence needs to be broken, awareness needs to be raised, leadership needs to be educated and policies need to be developed," Junge said in a letter made available on 15 January.

In an open letter to the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, Junge offered prayers for strength and courage on the family of the bereaved victim and all who mourn the loss of life through such ruthless violence.

The gang rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in December triggered global and national outrage. Protests erupted against an alarming incidence of sexual assault in the world's second most populous nation. In 2011 India recorded 24,206 rapes, 42,968 cases of molestation and 8,570 cases of sexual harassment.

Five men and a teenager are on trial facing charges over the rape and murder of the 23-year- female victim, who died 13 days after the crime in a Singapore hospital from her injuries.

News reports said the woman and her male companion were attacked on a bus in New Delhi on 16 December 2012. She died of her injuries at a Singapore hospital about two weeks later

The United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India says it has 11 member churches with a membership of some 4.5 million people.

Many in India are calling for tougher laws against crimes related to violence against women.
Junge noted that this reaction "stands in stark contrast to the attitude of denial and silence" that is common in similar cases. It is an expression of the resolve by Indian civil society to show "that things definitely have to change."

The letter from the Geneva-based communion to the umbrella for the India's 11 LWF churches encourages them to support civil society in the evolving "courageous step" towards the deep transformation that needed so that situations such as the one experienced by the young woman "are eradicated forever."

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