“I knew what he was doing was wrong, but I was scared of him. One would think this man of God, who has a huge following, is a deputy Jesus.”(Angela, cited by Ntombizodwa Makhoba in City Press, 25.03.19: ‘Pastor Lukau demanded sex from me’.)

From quack pastors to formally ordained clergy and lay leaders in formal churches, there is no doubt that sexual and other abuses of power is as prevalent in churches and other faith organisations as it is amongst sports stars and musicians…. Given the added spiritual abuse, the damage is likely to be even worse. It is almost certain that there are more cases that remain hidden. 

There is a small glimmer of light, however. 

High-level advocacy voices in some churches, and senior leadership in others have begun to call for action to root out the cancer of abuse in their midst. Some have begun taking concrete steps in response to reported cases, to ensure their churches are safe and free of abuse. 

At a 1-day conference to be held on the 3rd of April in Durban under the hashtag #LoveInAction, panellists from 3 major Southern African churches will share some of their interventions, the challenges they are facing, and lessons they are learning. 

Two survivors from different contexts will respond, to ensure that any steps taken are responsive to survivors’ needs and accountable to those most directly affected. 

The meeting will agree on an action plan to take this issue forward urgently and in solidarity in 2019. 

Further information can be obtained from the organisers, We Will Speak Out South Africa (coordinator@wwsosa.org.za; 0724537502)

 We Will Speak Out South Africa is a group/coalition of more than 200 individuals, organisations and church groups – including faith leaders, individual believers and survivors of SGBV – who work together to eliminate sexual and gender based violence in the faith sector and wider society and counter stigmatisation of survivors.