Thursday, August 21, 2014 Local time: 23:55

News / Civil society

Women’s Group to Expose Pastors Accused of Sexually Abusing Women

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Mavis Gama
Women's Action Group, known as WAG, says it wants to expose pastors accused of sexually abusing women in the Pentecostal churches.
 
WAG says the organization recently uncovered allegations of sexual abuse by pastors, allegations they say must be investigated. 

The group is calling on women who claim to have been sexually abused by pastors in their different congregations to come forward with their information.
 
WAG’s director, Edna Masiiwa, says her organization has already received voluntary reports from several women with detailed allegations. 

Masiiwa says that the allegations she has heard so far involve unprotected sex, which exposes those involved to contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
 
Masiiwa told VOA that, based on reports she has heard so far, sexual abuse is now more common in the Pentecostal churches, while historically it was more common in the so-called white garment churches.
 
Masiiwa says WAG is embarking on this campaign to protect vulnerable church members.
 
Masiiwa says her campaign is collecting evidence, but said her group cannot disclose the names of the victims or of the accused pastors. 

She says another challenge facing the alleged victims is that it may be difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were really abused, and that the sexual relations were not consensual. 

She said in the cases she has so far, both parties involved are adults.
 
WAG says most disturbing is that some female pastors in churches are allegedly aware of the sexual abuse allegations, but are afraid to take action against their male colleagues.
 
WAG is embarking on this campaign soon after it joined other groups around the world to commemorate 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. 

The government of Zimbabwe later declared its own 365- day campaign against gender-based violence in an effort to curb the problem.
Report by Mavis Gama
Report by Mavis Gamai
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