ZIMBABWE churches have introduced police vetting for aspiring Sunday School teachers in a bid to reduce growing cases of Child Sexual abuse in churches, HealthTimes can reveal.
By Michael Gwarisa
This revelation was made by Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) Liaison Officer, Reverend Samuel Sifelani at the Women and Girls Symposium in Epworth recently.
Our goal is to ensure that the church becomes a refuge for people facing abuse. However, sexual abuse has also become an issue in the church where people are facing various forms of abuse including sexual abuse. So what we have done is that, when pastors undergo pastoral training, the subject of Gender Based Violence (GBV) is now being taught at theological training level.
“As the council of churches, we are encouraging our members to formulate institutional and organisational protection and inclusion policies as well as policies against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). For instance as we speak, we have other churches which have made it a per-requisite that whoever wants to teach Sunday School should undergo strict police vetting and clearance to ensure parents won’t leave their children in the hands of child sexual offenders or pedophiles,” said Reverend Sifelani.
He also encouraged more churches to come up with such strict rules to ensure children are protected at all cost.
The ZCC is an grouping of various missionary churches which include Methodist, Anglican , Salvation Army, but we don’t work alone, we also work with other groups such as the Catholic Bishops Conference, the evangelical fellowship of Zimbabwe among other religious groups.
According to the Zimbabwe law enforcement authority, more than 100 girls are sexually abused every day, and this is more than any other time in the history of the country. These statistics are a tip of the iceberg.
There are other cases that are not reported due to complicity of care givers/ parents, in which caregivers prefer to have an out-of-court settlement with child sexual abusers.