Bring them to the light! - Congregations urged to expose sexual predators among clergy
Co-founder of the recently formed Tambourine Army Latoya Nugent is calling for church congregations islandwide to publicly expose ministers of religion who continue to abuse women and children while using their positions in the Church to evade prosecution.
Tambourine Army was formed in January as a result of the sex scandal that rocked the country and which saw three highly placed members of the Moravian church charged with having sexual intercourse with minors in separate instances.
Aimed at fighting gender-based violence in Jamaica, Tambourine Army staged a successful road march from 127 Molynes Road, Covenant Moravian Church, to the clock in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, on Saturday. The march attracted international attention.
"I'm not suggesting that every single minister of religion abuses their power, but I'm very aware that there are ministers of religion who are allowed to continue serving in Jamaica with the knowledge of their respective administrations that they're abusing children. We need to point them out. If we continue to shame and blame the victim and survivors of abuse and refuse to call the names of the perpetrators, and we know who they are in most cases, this cycle will continue as they won't be held accountable. As it stands, we have a court system. We don't have a justice system," Nugent told The Gleaner.
COURT SYSTEM NOT FRIENDLY
"The court system is not friendly to survivors and victims of abuse, hence the woefully low clear-up and conviction rate, and perpetrators exploit this. If a minister is accused of messing with a child, our default response as a church is that the child is lying. Instead of trying to find out what has actually happened, we blame and we shame the victim. The transferring of ministers from church to church to cover up what is happening has almost completely changed my perception of the Church and what the Church represents," added Nugent, the daughter of a minister and former Christian.
In the same breath, Nugent spoke of the need for the Church to collectively acknowledge, publicly, its "failing of the society without the grandstanding of potential contributions it has made to the country".
"After the acknowledgement, we can start to ask for the removal of ministers who are known among church circles or within faith communities as sexual predators or paedophiles. If we choose not to acknowledge this failure, we are, in essence, perpetuating the culture of silence and rape, and it will just continue."
... Some church teachings contribute to abuse of women, says Shepherd
PROFESSOR Verene Shepherd, director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, has listed biblical teachings that speak to the subordination of women as a contributing factor to abuse.
"Those who teach that men are supposed to have power over women are partly responsible for some of the abusive behaviour we're seeing in society today," Shepherd told The Gleaner.
"The churches who haven't come out need to do so and change their narrative as they're using old-fashioned ideologies. They need to realise that a lot of what they're teaching is not relevant to our society, and if they don't, they're going to create tension between genders in the Church.
Our society also tends to blame victims of abuse. If women wear something short or skimpy at the beach in our tropical climate, they're accused of bringing abuse on themselves. The schools also contribute to some of this as the length of some of the girls' uniforms is almost touching the floor. What's wrong with a decent knee-length uniform?"