Thu | Jun 29, 2017

Survivors of sexual abuse stage protest at Nazareth Moravian Church

Published:Monday | January 9, 2017 | 1:00 AMTamara Bailey

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

A group of 14 women from varying organisations who were once victims of sexual abuse, staged a peaceful protest at the Nazareth Moravian Church in the parish yesterday, citing their refusal to accept the silence of the church following the arrest and charge of their pastor for sexual misconduct.

The women, who were there independently of the organisations they represent, clad in shirts bearing messages against sexual abuse, said their main aim was to show support to the alleged victim, a 15-year-old girl.

According to one woman from the group, Taitu Heron, the women appeared at different intervals during the service, but were not all readily accepted in the church.

"They weren't forced out of the church or anything, but they definitely received some verbal attacks," she said. "We pressed on, though, and we sat in church in the front pew. The women who came after entered without any opposition."

She told The Gleaner that the aim of the protest was partly fulfilled as members of the Moravian Church hierarchy acknowledged them and afforded them the opportunity to speak.

"The president of the Elders Council of the Moravian Church welcomed us and made an effort to list the church's strategies to move forward and was open to the assistance of external organisations. Our presence forced him to speak to the issue."

Heron said the silence of church members can no longer be accepted as the problem of sexual misconduct among ministers is not new to the country.

"We really wanted to encourage the congregation to speak out against the silence because men and women shouldn't be complicit with any of the happenings because it is not the first time this is happening. Other ministers have done this before in Jamaica and we need to speak out because this is unacceptable. We also need to pay more attention to the victims," stated Heron.

rural@gleanerjm.com