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Why Sexuality is a Peace and Justice Issue

Although we all have choices in how we use power, injustice happens when there is an imbalance of power. This imbalance usually results in exploitation, abuse or oppression.

Statistics documenting the abuse and misuse of our bodies and the bodies of others include the following:

Body abuse occurs when there is rape; unplanned pregnancies (associated with increased likelihood of violence against the woman 2 to 4 times); child pornography and prostitution (1.8 million children); brutality against the sexual minority communities (an increase of 24-133% violent crimes as backlash from the Supreme Court decision in 2003 striking down sodomy laws); female genital mutilation (100-140 million worldwide); criminalizing sexual behaviors between consensual adults; and the intentional withholding of both sex education and information and access to emergency contraception. In the US, one rape occurs every 60 seconds, and one out of every four college women is raped. Throughout the world rape is used as a tactic of war. Also, 25-50% of pregnant adolescent girls are likely to be battered.

Body misuse occurs when there is ignorance, ambivalence, or hatred towards our bodies. This is expressed in a variety of ways. Some examples include: eating disorders (4-20% of young women in the US); adolescent “cutting” (20% adolescents report doing this at least once); low self-esteem (78% of 18 year old girls do not like their bodies); and the inability to make sexually healthy choices (50% of unplanned sex is under the influence of alcohol).

Unfortunately, in the US we normalize sexual objectification (particularly with women) and superficial sex.  This leads us to further denigration of the physical body and perpetuates a harmful mind/body split, leading to more abuse and misuse of our bodies or the bodies of others.  In order to act justly we must heal and integrate the mind, body and the spirit. This is justice work.

Justice occurs when we prevent abuse and advocate on behalf of those traumatized. We must also promote the freedom to pursue sexual desires, needs, or preferences in a non-abusive and non-exploitive manner. When everyone’s body is respected and treated with dignity, we will have body justice.

And, peace flourishes when justice prevails.