Women fault church's silence on gender-based violence

Cases of GBV are on the rise in Kenya. [iStockphoto]

The church should boldly speak out against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and rising killings of women in Kenya and other parts of Africa, an assembly of women meeting in Mombasa has said.

A conference of Women of Love and Prayer (Wolap) an association that brings together women leaders in evangelical churches from across Africa heard that the majority of women who throng churches were GBV victims, suffering in silence fearing stigma or reprisal from the perpetrators of the crimes. 

Wolap Kenya Patron Evangeline Karimi said the church has been conspicuously silent over rising cases of murder of women.

"We have seen women suffer in church and all they can do is pray. A  lot of women in Kenya face GBV and we have seen women dying because of the GBV,” said Rev Karimi.

She said Wolap is seeking ways to empower women in areas of leadership, finance, marketplace, and parenting. Wolap is a group of women leaders in churches across Africa.

"We want the church to be involved in the campaign against Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) because for long they have been silent," said Rev Karimi.

South African Wolap representative Adelaide Kamonde said women in the country (SA) have benefited through financial networking and learning parenting skills as single parents.

"Wolap has been an alter where we are taught about marketing and financial literacy which is an informative platform for women in faith. We also learn how we are supposed to grow our children in the Lord's way through undertaking responsible parenting skills," said Kamonde.

She revealed that part of the training is on how women of faith can be creative while undertaking household roles.

Ugandan Wolap representative Hamion Osborn said they have formed saving groups that undertake investments to empower women in Uganda.

"Wolap has impacted us to encourage other mothers to pray and we have midnight prayers where we motivate one another. We have formed saving groups which has seen many families strengthened financially," said Osborn.

South Sudan Wolap representative Rachael Deng said women in her country now have a platform to speak out and address issues facing them.

Mombasa County Gender Department Representative Mary Hussein said the county government has a directorate dealing with GBV matters and carries out sensitisation and social-economic empowerment activities.

"We know killings of women and GBV are fueled by poverty. We have loans that are advanced to women and also give 30 per cent tender opportunities to women PWDs and youths. We also focus on gender equality in job and tender allocation," she said.

"We have a research policy on SGBV in workplaces and currently, we have a programme on sanitary towels for primary and secondary to retain our girls in school," she added.

Rev Karimi said that women's voices have been silenced in church and it was high time they were given a chance to speak.

"We believe there is something we can do as women of faith in church. The women’s role in the church cannot be just to pray, sing, and dance. They need to be empowered," she said.

"We want to remove the mentality that women of faith are only about prayers. We are involved in financial programmes and get financial aid from Imarika Sacco who offers us loans to be able to undertake business. As much as we pray, we also ensure that the women are empowered to be independent because most of the GBV cases stem from economic frustrations," said Rev Karimi.

By AFP 4 hrs ago
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