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Unmasking Christian women survivor voices against gender-based violence: a pursuit for a feminist liberative pastoral care praxis for married women in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

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Gender-based violence is a global pandemic and Christian women face the unthinkable suffering and psycho-emotional trauma in their Christian homes. Traditional culture and practices are key agents of gender-based violence. Religion is another collaborator that perpetuates gender oppression and violence. Toxic theologies are implicated as sexist and patriarchal institutes that fuel injustices that harm more than cure as its women congregants suffer in shame and silence. The skewed biblical translations, and the language of submission and male dominance among many theologies have caused much harm. These toxic narratives are further bolstered in families at the wider society, where sociocultural practices such as ilobolo have created a climate of abuse as women are treated as chattel. Accordingly, patriarchy remains a contentious issue. The study employs Mercy Amba Oduyoye’s, African Women Theology as a theoretical lens since it intersects gender, where culture and religion surface as gender inequality and oppression which manifests as violent abuse, suffering, and psycho-emotional trauma in the home. This research study presents data collection from eleven (11) narratives of women survivors, who weave their embodied lived experiences of domestic and gender-based violence. These narratives explicate how and why African Christian women suffer from pathologies of culture and religion within marriage and how it distorts women’s identities and personhood. The latter part of data collection is embodied on focus group discussions and visual maps that shape pastoral care guidelines inspiring the Anglican Church of Southern Church in the Diocese of Natal to theologize differently. As part of incarnating faith communities such that women heal and flourish, the study explores a pastoral theological reflection tool/resource synonymous with pastoral guidelines aiding African women to participate in their own journey of healing within the Anglican communion. The pastoral praxis explored in here envisions non-patriarchal safe spaces beyond the Anglican Church norm and beyond the traditional theological resources for the affected to vent their feelings and frustrations about their experiences of exploitation and oppression outside of hierarchical borders. Their narratives created a space for vulnerability, recognition, and healing as, mechanisms that lead to restorative justice and emancipation, enabling women to flourish.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.