Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gender Sensitivity Check

Writing in the Catholic Weekly a member of the bishops' committee on women's issues mentions meeting a friend after Mass. The friend knew nothing about politics but seeing what was going on in the parliament made her uncomfortable.

During the process of passing a fast track political reform bill, the Speaker of the Assembly was condemned for an act of 'sexual harassment' for touching the cheeks of a female lawmaker who was blocking his way. Holding flowers and holding an emergency press conference the women lawmakers denounced the Speaker.

A person talking with a tall person may have a sense of inferiority. Saying she was willing to become an 'Old Miss' to serve her constituents can be considered sexual harassment by some. It's not always easy to determine what is sexual harassment and what is not.

The woman who is considered to have started South Korea’s 'MeToo' movement was a prosecutor. She was groped by a colleague at a funeral of a co-worker's father. She complained and suffered much because of her efforts to address a wrong. After the accusation in 2018 was made it was followed by accusations against politicians, celebrities, and many others in the court of law. The Catholic Church also began education programs to prevent sexual violence in each of the dioceses. This greatly enhanced the gender sensitivity of the citizens.

'MeToo' movement was preceded by female victims, but it's now a movement that reaffirms that human beings, not only women, need to be respected and treated with dignity and this is acknowledged by most of society.

In the context of the recent confrontation in the National Assembly, the writer feels the women lawmakers and their party have allowed "sexual harassment" to be used as a political tool and has little to do with gender sensitivity. This incident confuses the sense of gender and the writer's friend who was upset at what was happening is an indication that the behavior of the women lawmakers weakens the true sexual violence that we see in society.

The 'MeToo' movement is not just a small cry for justice. In the process of fighting over gender inequality, there is the danger of losing more than is gained. Victims have a desire to escape the nightmare of sexual violence. However, in our society, she gives the example of a 12-year-old girl who was subjected to physical and sexual violence by her foster father and killed. The mother was so fearful of her husband that she said nothing. There are still a lot of people who do not want to be accused of sexual assault, and the behavior of the politicians makes the lot of true sexual victims more painful to speak out.

She wants women to check what is meant by gender sensitivity. She was sad that the women were not able to say no to the political use that the men wanted to make of the incident, where the Speaker touched the cheeks of the woman lawmaker. They were pushed out in front to demonstrate. "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces" (Matthew 7,6). She wonders if she is the only one to have these words come to mind.

She is reminded again that the purpose of the 'MeToo'  movement is to create a world in which women's dignity is upheld. Women need to do what they need to do and not have political expediency motive them. Not long ago, Pope Francis also acknowledged the sexual violence in Catholicism and publicly acknowledged that Catholics are also involved in the global movement. Leaders and all members of the Catholic Church should continue to implement gender sensitivity initiatives.

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