If a pastor from a charismatic church had committed the crime of rape as we have seen circulating in news outlets these past few days, there would have been an endless outcry for their termination. I would probably be in the midst of that group urging for the governance of the mushrooming churches. Governance on their freedom of speech and conduct.
The case of the ELCIN pastor accused of raping a child, however, drew me to another issue, one that is quite prevalent in our society. Rather than looking at governance, I am compelled to look at something much deeper, which is the rooted not only religious entities but traditional and social bodies as well; the need to conceal and the need for secrecy.
How have several religious institutions maintained good public image when we are aware of the vile acts that happen behind closed doors? How are these open secrets not so open?
What is evident is the deep-rooted need to maintain the reputations of those in high positions of society and prestigious religious organisations. Probably in fear of losing the mass following and to maintain the respect and honour in the community. In African culture, we are taught not to expose family matters to the public, as matters need to be dealt with privately. These habits of non-disclosure have allowed the vile atrocities of rape and other forms of abuse to continue, unseen, under the veils of secrecy.
I have heard it argued that sexual crimes or GBV related crimes have not actually increased in recent times, but only being reported more, and brought to light.
In a religious context, due to the perceived “repentance” of perpetrators, and discreet apologies between families and affected parties, no attention is brought to the many cases that have eventually died behind the walls of congregations and “counselling” sessions.
I think we are all at fault due to the notion of “forgive and forget”, as we are taught and operate under the assumption, that forgetting means excusing people from the consequences of their actions. However when it comes to physical abuse and rape, we forget that these people have committed actual crimes and have broken the law. We deem it cruel and unloving to go as far as opening a case against a perpetrator, but as we are growing to learn, these actions have actually been fuelling and enabling, and have reached levels of being a national crisis.
People who have been convicted of violent crimes are usually known by many to be reoccurring offenders. Although it is public knowledge, it never makes it to police archives, making them first time offenders officially which affords them privileges such as being able to post bail. We are socialised to accept and give people second chances without reporting and that grants them opportunities to commit far worse and heinous crimes. In my opinion, concealing in unloving. By not reporting, we prevent victims from getting the assistance they need to live full and functioning lives. We are committing a great injustice not only to the victims but to perpetrators who need rehabilitation.
It is about time that Namibians begin taking to heart, the role that each of us plays in perpetuating the cycle of violence and no longer enable systems that allow the culture of concealment to exist.
2019-11-01 08:19:32 | 13 days ago