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A Public Theology for Intimate Spaces

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This article explores public theology as a means of making public the needs of the voiceless, here with a focus on harm suffered in intimate spaces. The plight of farm labourers living on commercial farms in the Hoedspruit area in north-east South Africa is presented as a case study. In spite of national laws regulating domestic relationships, farm workers are vulnerable to HIV infection and domestic violence, in part because of religious discourses that impose hierarchical relationships on men and women and rob the individual of ownership over his or her own body. The reworking of harmful religious discourses into healthy practices is presented in this article as a set of tenets of a public theology that would bring healing and safety to people who, at present voicelessly, suffer violence in intimate spaces, in a country where cultural and religious taboos prevent clear information on this subject from entering the public arena.


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Affiliations: 1: University of South Africa


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