By Tina S. Mehnpaine
As the national discourse on rape continues to make waves across the country with series of protests staged by anti-rape advocates, the Christian Health Organization (CHO) has called on the church to use the pulpit to sensitize their congregations and the public that rape is a sin just like any other transgressive act that God eschews.
Patricia S. Kamara, head of CHO, is irritated by the rampant rape cases and other acts of gender-based violence engulfing the Liberian society, with special emphasis that the menace of rape is degrading women who are also humans that deserve dignity and respect.
“The church needs to stand up for what is right; rape and too many evils are going on and they are keeping silent,” said Patricia.
According to data from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, there were 182 cases of rape reported in January 2019, as compared to January 2020 when 172 rape cases were reported. In February 2020, 174 rape cases were reported as compared to the same month in 2019, which recorded 169 cases of rape. In March 2020, there were 160 rape cases reported compared to the same month in 2019, which recorded 154 cases.
The church is one of the largest social institutions hosting half or more of the population in Liberia, and the prelates are highly respected by the church members for modeling them spiritually. With about 85.5% of Liberians subscribing to the Christian faith (LISGIS, 2008), Patricia believes that the church can help to change the society if the pulpit is used to preach against rape and other vices.
Presenting on the topic, “Increase in domestic violence amid COVID-19” at the Joint Ecumenical Response Action to the COVID-19 pandemic, Madam Kamara said it is so frustrating when the economy is falling apart and, at the same time, rape is increasing, especially targeting teenagers and babies who have not even learned to talk.
She said in these difficult times where the custodian of laws (judicial system) seems to be failing in bringing rape survivors to justice, the church should rise up to speak for and to its people.
Kamara said the church cannot be excluded from what happens in society and, as such, it is very important that it adds its voice to the social issue that is gradually becoming a social problem.
In addition to speaking on the pulpit to enlighten the public on rape as a sin or transgression, Kamara said all churches need to launch a campaign against all forms of SGBV, adding that churches whose members and leaders are accused of rape should be ex-communicated.
It can be recalled that in June this year, James Kollie, a 50-year old man claiming to be a pastor in Logan Town, outside Monrovia, was arrested on allegation of rape following a complaint the uncle of the rape victim filed at the Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberia National Police. He was arrested on June 17, 2020, but is yet to face justice.