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Publication Date: 25 Nov 2015
Publisher: SPCK Publishing
Page Count: 276
Author: Elaine Storkey
ISBN-13: 9780281075089, 9780281075096

Scars Across Humanity

Understanding And Overcoming Violence Against Women
By Elaine Storkey
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ISBN: 9780281075096
Published to coincide with the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November 2015), Scars Across Humanity is a thoroughly documented investigation into the causes of violence against women, past and present. Global in scope, and addressing the issues as they affect women at every stage of life, this powerful book also offers a probing critique of evolutionary and social-scientific accounts of gender-based violence, and of the role that religion can play, for good or ill, in the struggle against this worldwide problem.
About the Author
Elaine Storkey is a philosopher, sociologist and theologian, having held posts at the Open University, King's College, London, and the University of Oxford. In 1997 she became President of Tearfund, and has since been involved in monitoring aid, relief and advocacy work in countries of the Global South. In 2010 she and her husband Alan became founder members of Restored, an organisation committed to advocating against violence to women.
Press Reviews

If you want to expand your knowledge on the subject of violence against women, Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women by Elaine Storkey is a must-read. It is an engaging, investigative book packed with history, research, stories, outcomes, and possible solutions to the global issue of violence against women. It covers the past, present, and future of this violence that has many faces in all societies across the globe.

Storkey is respectful and offers perspectives from many different groups and cultures, yet she always defends and makes her point of view very clear. This is not just a good book to read, it is an important book to read because "violence against women is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or even to particular groups of women within a society. Rather, in all societies, women and girls are subjected to forms of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse."

This book is a well-organized, easy to follow resource. There is an introductory chapter on the global issue of violence against women, defining it as a global pandemic. It examines the denial of violence against women occurring in some countries and the absence of laws protecting women in others. Storkey also discusses how some countries have laws to protect women, but they refuse to implement them. Other times, Storkey submits, women are kept uninformed of their rights. Regardless, the introduction will grab your attention and keep you reading.

Gender inequality in Christianity has contributed to violence against women global:
Each of the next eight chapters is dedicated to a specific type of violence, most of which do not discriminate between girls or women. The chapters are arranged in a projection of the chronological order that a specific type of violence may happen to a female in her lifetime. Each chapter is full of raw, heart wrenching stories along with well-documented research that spans the globe. The chapters examine selective abortion and infanticide, female genital mutilation, early and enforced marriage, honor killings, domestic violence, trafficking and prostitution, rape, and sexual violence during war.

These chapters trace the history of each type of violence, the present societal and cultural implications of gender-based violence, the consequences of doing nothing for the global future, and necessary actions to overcome and prevent these atrocities against women and girls.

The last four chapters are dedicated to detailing different groups' explanations of gender-based violence, along with each group’s proposed plan for overcoming it. Storkey is respectful to the history and viewpoints of biologists, feminists, Muslims, and Christians. However, she is an egalitarian Christian and she makes it clear that she does not necessarily agree with all of those viewpoints. She respectfully questions and sometimes disagrees with others’ positions, but she deliberately affords those other perspectives proper space. Storkey’s treatment allows for a fair and complete history and gives readers a detailed picture of how various groups are working to eradicate violence against women.

Though she is a Christian, Storkey reports that the chapter dedicated to Christianity was the most difficult chapter for her to write. She is honest and forthright as she argues that the traditions of patriarchy have become synonymous with Christianity in much of the world. She explains how gender inequality in Christianity has contributed to violence against women globally. This chapter also explores the history of women in the church, the recent semi-acceptance of women in leadership roles, complex biblical texts, and examples of great women leaders from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.

True Christian love leaves no room for this scarring violence against women
The last subject of the book is the Christian theology of personhood and the hope that egalitarian Christian initiatives will hold in the fight against gender-based violence. In this last chapter, Storkey argues that true Christian love leaves no room for this scarring violence against women.

Scars Across Humanity is a thorough investigation into violence against women. Every story told is personal as if the woman or girl in it is your next-door neighbor or coworker. If you are a woman, you should read this book. If you are a man who has women or girls in his life, you should read this book. In short, everyone should read this book. It is scheduled for publication on November 25, 2015 to coincide with UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

I invite you to read this book because:

“The extent of violence against women cannot be underestimated, nor can its consequences. The impact ripples through every area of society; it affects women, children, families, neighborhoods, men, lawmakers, law-enforcers, health providers and so many of our social institutions. It does indeed leave scars on the face of humanity."

- CBE International

Violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon and problem. In some places it is so ingrained in the culture that it is regarded as normal human behaviour. Elaine Storkey has carried out a gruelling investigation into the situation of women throughout the world and, as the title of her book – Scars Across Humanity – suggests she makes it clear, that the prevalence of violence against women is a scar on male and female alike. Until this evil is eradicated humanity cannot flourish.
Ironically, the age-old practice of female infanticide has been given a new impetus with the availability of technology to determine the gender of the foetus. In many parts of the world, laws and customs, making males money-spinners and females money-less dependants cause people to want boys, to secure the family economic survival rather than girls, whose dowries could prove costly.

An off-shoot of this can be a shortage of young women brides and this in turn can lead to pre-pubescent girls being wed to much older men, often suffering terrible physical damage and pain as well as a life of drudgery and beatings.

The author’s research has taken her around the world to discover women enslaved and in poverty and facing constant violence in the home. The issue of domestic violence against women is rife in the UK where it accounts for 18 per cent of all recorded violent crime, with the police reposting incidents every minute or 1,300 calls a day.

Yet only a small minority of victims report abuse. While people question why a woman stays in a violent relationship, statistically a woman is most in danger when she is trying to leave an abusive partner or in the immediate aftermath of leaving. Sometimes judges are lenient with violent husbands who murder their wives, suggesting they were probably provoked.

This book also examines female genital mutilation, trafficking and prostitution, rape and reprisals for shame or so-called honour killing. While Christians are often aware and critical of abuses carried out within other faiths and these are full examined in the book, Elaine Storkey includes examples of Christian women enduring physical and mental abuse and finding little or no help within their church community. Patience and endurance are often advocated, without a real understanding of the damage being visited on women and on children as observers or as directly abused.

Over the centuries, patriarchy has been the public face of the Church. From early church history, men have defined women’s sexuality as problematic.

Quotes from St Clement of Alexandria: “Every woman should be filled with shame that she is a woman”; Tertullian: “You are the devil’s gateway… You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die”; St John Chrysostom: “What is a woman but… a necessary evil, a nature”; or Ode of Cluny: “To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of dung” hint at early Church leaders’ feelings about this “misbegotten man” who is woman.

All this is a far cry from “God created humankind in his image. In the image of God he created them, male and female he created them” (Genesis 1.27).

Yet in the Bible there are plenty of examples of violence against women or of insistence on women’s place as subject to their husbands. The World Council of Churches has drawn Christians together across language and culture barriers and recognised that gender injustice can only come about through spiritual conviction and the experience of God’s love.

This book ends by challenging us to recognise that ending gender-based violence is “the great unfinished business of our time”. In many places, inequality also leads to women bearing the brunt of poverty. We need support across all faith communities to end the violence, tend the deep scars on humanity and to join the healing work of restorative justice.

Not a cosy book to snuggle down with on the beach or by a fireside, but a valuable clarion call and contribution to human relationships and work justice and pace and a valuable reminder that the responsibility is “ours”, not merely “theirs”.

- The Rev Marie Dove

Elaine Storkey is extremely well respected. This is a hugely important book. Violence against women is a shocking blight, perpetrated on occasion by some in church life. I particularly applaud Storkey's work in 2010 establishing the campaigning group, 'Restored'. This title deserves to be widely stocked and widely read.

- Eddie Olliffe

It is a difficult and challenging book to read, leaving an imprint on your heart long after reading the words.

- Julie Corr

Scars Across Humanity is a powerful thrust in the direction of justice and inequality. By a long shot, this the most important book I’ve read in the past year – maybe my lifetime. Please read this book, and tell others to read it too.

- Tristan Sherwin

‘This is a compelling and courageous book which I believe every Christian should read. It makes for challenging and painful reading, as chapter after chapter piles up incontrovertible evidence of the scale and depth of violence against women, combining extensive research with ?rst person testimony and narrative.’

- Nicola Slee The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham

This book made me angry, upset, uncomfortable, and at some points feel physically ill. It informed me on issues I didn’t even know existed. It is powerful and it is truth and I believe that everyone should read it.

- Adair

an ‘excellent and informative book’

- Pat Pinsent

I wonder how I missed the publication of this excellent and informative book!

- Pat Pinsent

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