Men of cloth with huge sexual appetite

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A WORRYING trend of sexual abuse, taking place at some local churches where perpetrators are men of the cloth, (pastors) has been exposed by a local non-governmental organisation.

Veneranda Langa, Senior Parliamentary Reporter

Musasa, a non-governmental organisation that deals with counselling and rehabilitation of rape and battered women disclosed that they had noted a rise in such cases by “men of God”.

“We have seen an increase in sexual abuse perpetrated by pastors, and sometimes members of the church — and not only apostolic churches (vapostori), but by pastors from the well-known Pentecostal churches and also from the mainline traditional churches,” Musasa director Netty Musanhu, said.

“We are getting seriously concerned and right now we have a child from our shelter who ran away from home because she was being forced to get married to an older man and some of the victims of child marriages are 13-years-old.”

Musanhu said what was disturbing about these cases was that the pastors brainwashed female church members using biblical verses to cover up their acts.

And when an abused woman tries to report the rape case, church members gang up against her. NewsDay was called to Musasa offices this week where two women openly spoke about how they were sexually abused by a pastor who is apparently married to four women.

One of them openly wept as she narrated her ordeal revealing how this pastor would allegedly twist the Bible messages and boast that all the women in his church were his wives.

“To my dismay, even some male congregates believed it and shouted amen,” one woman said.

The pastor in question allegedly engages his victims in a “counselling” session at his office where he tells them he is a shepherd who had the right to eat from his flock (meaning to have sexual intercourse with them).

He also allegedly tells the victims that during biblical times, the master had maid servants that he would bed. The woman said the pastor told them that after the master had bedded them, he would then hand them in marriage to male servants.

The women, who preferred to remain anonymous, for fear of victimisation, said after these abuses, they were forced to marry young male members of the church, even when there was no love between them.

The sexual appetite of this particular man of the cloth is said to be so huge that it is believed that he could have bedded the most of women in his congregation.

The women said the sexual escapades could turn into orgies where he would demand group sex with a number of girls who were made to touch each other’s body parts to sexually arouse each other.

That is when he would become intimate with them while others watched and in some cases these acts are captured on a video recorder.

“I was 18 years old when the pastor demanded that I should start sleeping with him saying it was church policy. He said that no woman could be allowed to wed outside the church and before any wedding the pastor said he had the right to sleep with the bride first or else there would be no marriage.

“However, the abuse continued for a long time and whenever he felt he wanted me, he would bed me. If I threatened to speak out, the pastor would pick me in front of the whole church while preaching and portray me and tell everyone that I was possessed by evil spirits,” one of the women said.

The second woman chipped in and said: “I was 20 when the pastor bedded me and fell pregnant. I was ordered to terminate the pregnancy and taken to a doctor who performed the abortion. At that time, the pastor’s fourth wife was also pregnant. All the abused girls were often made to stay at the pastor’s house. We could not tell anyone because we feared him so much. After two years and when I had recovered from the first abortion, the pastor took advantage of me again and made me pregnant. The second pregnancy was aborted at five months and it was a very dangerous and life-threatening procedure.”

She said that is when she realised that what he was doing to her was wrong. The woman said, while he was doing all these things, he was very protective of his own daughters.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to hear that he could have been abusing them as well,” she added.

Both women were later handed in marriage to innocent young men from that congregation, a situation that keeps haunting them to date.

“It was traumatic, his sexual urge was just too much to the extent that even when I was menstruating, he would order me to bed and remove the sanitary towel,” the second woman said.

They both said their only hope to nail the pastor and have him brought to book for the abuses could only be through Musasa.

Musanhu said many women from various Christian denominations were now coming out to report such cases from this particular Pentecostal church.

A male member of the church is said to have alerted the Ministry of Gender and Women’s Affairs, in a letter to intervene.

“Zimbabwe was declared a Christian nation, but why is such evil being allowed to happen? We demand that government intervene and regulates these churches.

“There are many churches that are sprouting all over the place, but there seems to be no one regulating their operations. People should not be allowed to wake up and start their own churches because all this is just a tip of the iceberg,” Musanhu said.

She said pastors were powerful people, in most cases well connected and had money, resulting in most of them who engaged in such nefarious activities buying themselves out of prosecution.

Musasa’s advocacy and legal coordinating officer Tariro Tandi said survivors of such abuse would not have consented to intimacy, but they do it out of fear and yet these were clearly rape cases.

“Rape is rape and I would like to advise women that if that is happening right now, they should seek help regardless of their marital status even if the abuse happened a long time ago.

“There is an adult rape clinic at Parirenyatwa Hospital where victims are tested, and receive medical attention and counselling. They can also get help from Free Family Support Trust. Even if they might not want to go to court the victims should get counselling. As Musasa, we have a free toll number 080800,” Tandi said.

She said the process of legal aid might take long, but women should be patient so that perpetrators face the wrath of the law.

Gender and peace-building programmes officer at Musasa Nyasha Mazango said counselling was imperative for victims of sexual abuse.

“We offer temporary shelter for survivors of abuse. Counselling can also be arranged for family members and even the spouse. Women have to understand that it is not their fault and they should not be afraid to be judged by other people. We exercise the strictest confidentiality when dealing with such matters. An abuse that happened 20 years ago can be reported today,” Mazango said.

A gender activist and sexual abuse survivor Tendai Garwe said rape was tantamount to murder and should be condemned in the strongest terms.

“It is important for the family of the victim to be supportive when they finally decide to open up. There are sick men out there who want to get satisfaction from sleeping with every young girl and women should speak out. Speaking out will help other people and we salute those brave enough to report the cases,” Garwe said.

Pastor with No Limits International Church Patricia Rodrigues said sexual abuse was real in churches and urged the ministry that deals with gender to add a voice to these abuses.

“We once pursued the issue to a certain point, but it seemed most of the pastors were not enthusiastic about it. It is not good that people who are supposed to be men of God, protecting girls, single women and widows sometimes take advantage of them.

“We want zero tolerance to sexual abuse at churches and I just feel that instead of churches sprouting from nowhere, they should be vetted and registered and that is the duty of councils that govern churches all over the world,” she said.

Pastor Rodrigues said some of these cases were both demonic and satanic acts.

She said money paid by churchgoers as tithes and offerings was being used to pay doctors who conduct abortions on these women.

“I personally can confirm that I have dealt with many women who have been sexually abused by pastors whom they looked up to for comfort, deliverance and counselling. Most of the pastors involved were foreign and no prior vetting was done before they started practising in Zimbabwe,” she said.

According to Unicef and Zimstats, one in every three girls is raped before she reaches 18 years.

Survivors of such abuse generally prefer to suffer in silence because they fear persecution by other church members who are only interested in protecting image of the church.

Shocking statistics of sexual abuse in Zimbabwe reveal that in 2012 about 2 400 cases were recorded.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) 2 195 of them were documented during the first half of that year.

Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an international campaign that starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The campaign hopes to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue the local, national, regional and international levels.

This year’s theme is “Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women”.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Many thanks Musasa for bringing such cases to light and l appeal to church going women to be wary of indoctrination that leads to abuse. We perhaps call on the powers that be to investigate this sector since many such cases go unchallenged. There is more to it in these flamboyant men of the cloth than meets the eye as they are idolised by many a women (easy prey).

  2. Iye munhu ngaazvizivire kunamata Mwari wake ega, kwete kungoda kunamatirwa, deliverence, etc Mark 9vs19 “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you?…” Learn to have a personal relationship with you creator.

  3. there is a line between a woman and a child especially as this is a 100 percent udult literacy nation.
    ko ukanozvitengera bhaibheri rako kuti uzviravire ndiyani angakukwevera mumakwenzi imomo?
    hondo ngaiva yokudzivirira nokurwira under age children kwete ngezha dzinomanyira kubatwa batwa na stranger.
    makoronyera awandisa beware and prevent manipulation by them everywhere. huye kana wariona usariti mufundisika?
    unbelievable !!

  4. women pliz do be hoodwinked by the so called pastors cos many of them these days are becoming pastors due to lack of employment opportunities so be careful. women must learn not to visit pastors alone, if married go with husband or woman friend and there is nothing like being told to be in private the two of you.

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