Group condemns abuse of women in religious institutions

Religious institutions have been challenged to call out the rogue leaders and ensure they face justice. [iStockphoto]

Nakuru Productive Health Network has raised concern over the increased cases of unreported sexual and physical abuse of faithful in religious institutions.

The group during a demonstration on Saturday along Kanu Street in Nakuru called out religious institutions that protect pastors, priests, and Imams who sexually abuse women.

Ramla Josphat, a member of Nakuru Productive Health Network said some religious leaders pretend to fight violence against women but protect their colleagues who do the same.

“Young girls who are molested and impregnated by religious leaders are either hidden or forced to abort to ensure the religious institutions maintain their good image,” she said.

Ms Ramla regretted that despite several reports made in police stations, religious leaders facing charges in court are few.

“It can only mean one thing, that the religious institutions may be hiding culprits or protecting them despite the heinous act. This has not only ruined the reputation of churches but also its dignity,” she said.

She challenged the religious institutions to call out the  rogue leaders and ensure they face justice.

“We speak to professionals who work at religious institutions and are forced to remain silent and not disrupt the ideologies of the religious institutions,” she said.

Ramla said they stand for those abused and for what is right while at the same time condemn violence against faithful.

Martin Lunalo, an official of feminist movement called on the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) to take charge.

Lunalo said the religious leaders should come out and campaign for life and equality among all members of the society, including sexual workers, homosexuals and street children.

“We condemn the religious movement’s superiority and discrimination that divides Kenyans,” he said.

No report has been made recently on sexual and other abuses by the religious leaders, except the Shakahola massacre allegedly orchestrated through religious teachings.

More than 400 died in the Shakahola massacre, more than 620 have been reported missing while 100 were rescued.

An international report by the Illinois Attorney General stated that about 2,000 children suffered sexual abuse at the hands of 451 Catholic clergy between 1950 and 2019.  

In 2022, Fr Charles Oloo, of St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Nairobi noted that many cases of child sexual abuse go unreported with those living in rural areas affected most.

“Despite the established policies and norms that protect minors, there remain challenges on implementation either due to a culture of secrecy that inhibits disclosure or poor monitoring and evaluation framework,” he said.

Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria recently called for a lifestyle audit of all the clergy to determine their wealth and its source in a bid to ensure churches operate with utmost transparency.