A Lie-Long Planted: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Gender Based Injustice in Sub-Saharan Africa

genderbasedinjusticeDuring the recent Christians for Biblical Equality Conference in Pittsburgh, I had the privilege of learning from Medad Birungi, a brilliant, passionate and courageous Uganda scholar, leader and educator.  Medad’s seminar, “A Lie-Long Planted: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Gender Based Injustice in Sub-Saharan Africa,” demonstrated the international flavor of the conference and the harsh reality that gender based injustice is truly a global issue.

During my trips to East Africa, I have had glimpses of the injustices that women face based solely upon gender; however, I must confess it was sobering to hear a Ugandan speak so clearly about the reality of gender based injustice and these lies that these inequities are built. The theme of the conference was “Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ” and a common phrase that was used by speakers was “ideas have consequences,” even ideas that are based in falsehood and deception. A challenge facing the people of God is addressing this lies and countering them with the truth from God’s Word. Only then will women and men be set free to become the people God intended, created and redeemed them to be.

Here are the sixteen lies that Medad outlined, along with a brief explanation. I encourage you to learn more and to become involved. Speak out against gender-based injustice wherever and whenever you see it. Partner with those like Medad who are directly engaging the powers of evil that propagate these lies. And pray that both women and men would be set free by the truth.

1) Female Genital Mutilation (Women are by nature sexually promiscuous and the only way they will be restrained is by removing their pleasure)

2)  Gender based Violence (Men demonstrate their “love” by physically abusing their wives who have no choice but to submit.)

3)  Single Sex Philosophy (Producing only girls is a curse and family misfortune)

4)  Male Headship and Female Submission (Men are seen as prophet, priest and king in their homes and must be treated accordingly. They are more intelligent and better suited to make decisions)

5)  Male Ownership of Property (Only men should be able to own property)

6)  The Beast of Burden Philosophy (Women were created by God to be “helpers” and as such they are second class citizens whose function is to help men in all ways)

7)  Original Sin Legends (This lie as well is based upon a misreading of Genesis. Sin originated with women, therefore they are suspect and unworthy of trust)

8)  I Can’t Syndrome (Women are the weaker sex and as such should never be in a position over any male. This produces a sense of identity that is grounded in helplessness and futility)

9)  Marriage Issues (As they saying goes, “when a banana is ripe, it should be eaten.” This results in young girls being given in marriage and the consequence loss of childhood innocence and opportunity)

10) Premarital Sex and Pregnancy Bring Curse on Family (This can result in “honor killings” which protect the honor of a family’s reputation. Not so coincidentally, the male’s honor is never questioned in these cases.)

11)  A Women’s Value Is in Producing Children (And when she has fulfilled this responsibility or is unable to produce children, she is discarded.)

12)  The Cleansing of Widow’s through Sexual Intercourse (When a husband dies, a widow may be exposed to sexual assault to prevent the spread of death into the family.)

13)  Gender-based Taboos (One example – women may be denied healthy food simply based on gender.)

14) The Bride Price (This places great economic pressure on families and if they are unable to raise the dowry, young women can be stigmatized and even killed.)

15)  Patriarchy Is the Best Model Because It Has Been Passed Down from the Ancestors (The traditions of the ancestors must be practiced and handed down from one generation to another.)

What do you think about these lies? Which ones in particularly grieved you? How can you be a part of the solution?

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