Thirty Eight Bishops under the Apostolic Church Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) in Harare attended a sensatisation workshop by Family Support Trust (FST) to sensitise them on identification, reporting and management of child sexual abuse and gender based violence cases.
The Bishops were equipped with information on the prevention of child sexual abuse and the need to raise awareness among their congregates through the multi-sectoral approach on management of child sexual abuse.
During the workshop several issues were raised around the intimidation of complainants. Survivors are usually intimidated either at home or by the perpetrator thereby hindering them from reporting. Cultural practices such as chiramu were also noted as fueling child sexual abuse, a situation where some church leaders claim God has spoken to them concerning marriage raising the question why the leaders dream of underage children rather than mature women or men.
ACCZ said children’s rights are important and should be upheld as they are the leaders of tomorrow. He urged the church leaders to desist from child sexual abuse and child marriages.
They added that the church leaders should act as gatekeepers in the communities to prevent such atrocities from happening.
“Children’s rights are important issues which should be upheld because we were once children. People should not marry children but must marry children.
Children honour their parents in the way they are treated. If they are abused at a tender age they would have been deprived of their rights.
“Child abuse and Gender Based Violence are national problems that we need to fight against,” they said.
The church leaders committed themselves to fighting child sexual abuse and to cascade that information to their congregation.