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Churches faulted on sexual offences

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By Watipaso Mzungu, Contributor:

CONCERNED— Hauya

Religious leaders commit sexual offences against female believers but most of the cases go unreported, a recent report indicates.

Findings of the study— which Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Gender Protocol Alliance Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Mapping, Policy and Campaigns has released— were released at a meeting held recently .

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NGO Gender Cordination Network (NGO-GCN), in partnership with Sadc Gender Protocol Alliance, organised the meeting.

Renowned gender activist, Emma Kaliya, said she was not surprised with the findings.

“A lot of women are being sexually abused by their pastors and church elders but the victims choose to keep quiet for fear of being labelled sinful,” Kaliya said.

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Kanengo Police Station Child Protection Officer and head of the Victim Support Unit, Wells Munthali, said a number of pastors have recently been arrested in connection with sexual offences.

“Usually, members of the church where the accused pastor ministers storm the police station, demanding the immediate release of the accused pastor. Recently, we arrested a pastor on rape charges and church members came with tree branches in hands while chanting songs to discredit and denounce the victim as evil,” he said.

SRHR Africa Trust Country Programme Officer, Novice Bamusi, challenged believers to break the culture of silence in churches.

NGO-GCN Network Coordinator, Innocent Hauya, described the revelation as shameful.

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