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Discursive representations of gender based violence in a synod resolution of the Anglican diocese of Natal of October 2013.

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Following the gang rape and murder of Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp near Cape Town on the 2nd of February 2013, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa through the provincial Dean, Bishop Rubin Phillip released a media statement condemning the act and other forms of violence against women. In that same year, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of Natal chaired by Bishop Rubin Phillip produced a synod resolution expressing their abhorrence “of all forms of violence”. Using a critical a feminist framework, this study analysed the discursive representations of gender based violence in the house of synod and the synod resolution and the events that may have contributed to the house of synod’s conceptualisation of gender based violence. The research employs a feminist framework to analyse how the institutional structure and processes of the Anglican Church, through the house of synod and synod resolution, perpetuates violence against women in both overt and covert ways. The study relied on the synod resolution kept in the archives of the Anglican Diocese of Natal. Critical discourse analysis was used to examine the discursive representations of gender based violence in the synod resolution.The research indicated that the main focus of the synod resolution was sexual violence against women as informed by the Anene Booysen incident and, because of this of this specific focus the synod resolution falls short in addressing gender based violence in its entirety. Covert forms of violence and especially those that are systemic in the institution of the church are not discussed. The research also considered the possibility of conceptualising the Anglican synod as both a religious and legal space which functions in a legal framework that is related to but independent of the state law of South Africa. An analysis of the relationship between church law and state law established that although church law depends on state law for validation, the church perceives itself to have moral authority to instruct the state on matters the church is concerned with. Finally, the study interrogates the sufficiency of the house of synod in dealing with gender based violence when structures and constitution of the house of synod itself maintain patriarchal norms.


M. Th. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2015.


Anglican Church of Southern Africa., Sex discrimination -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal -- Religious aspects., Violence in men -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Councils and synods, Diocesan -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Theses -- Theology.