By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
There still remain ‘harmful’ church practices within the apostolic churches which perpetuate Gender-Based Violence(GBV).
This was noted during the launch of the ‘365 Days of Activism Against GBV’ by the Female Students Network Trust (FESN) on Monday.
A University of Zimbabwe student and FESN mentee Molline Mukonowasha ,who is a member of an apostolic church revealed that her church still harbour religious practices that entrench patriarchy leaving girls and women vulnerable to GBV.
“It is worrying that in our church there are still forced virginity tests which gives room for the old ‘madhalas’ (men) to abuse the young girls taking advantage of their status after the tests.
“I have noticed that some of my age mates including those younger than me already are mothers and they find it awkward that I am still at college because to them marriage is the only way out to beat poverty,” she cited.
To challenge these practices is viewed rebellious and demonic , added Mukonowasha.
An initiative founded by former Johanne Marange church follower Natasha Momberume from the Students Teachers’ Council is making inroads trying to empower young girls in the Johanne Marange to fight Gender-Based-Violence.
“I am a firm believer in walking the talk so I have started an initiative where I go and dialogue with young girls in Johanne Marange to teach them about their sexual and reproductive health rights.
“The good thing is that I can relate to their experiences since I was a victim growing up in the church hence they can discern the message better,” she opined.
According to Adult Rape Clinic gender and advocacy officer Phephisiwe Muranda ,her organisation this year alone has recorded a staggering over 1000 cases of women seeking their services after being sexually violated. Adolescent girls constitute 70 percent of those cases.
Meanwhile , addressing the delegates at the launch ,chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on gender and women affairs, Mutasa North legislator Chido Madiwa-Tsinakwadi said parliament is fervently pushing for the adoption of the Sexual Harassment Bill as law.
“What can I assure you is that as parliament we pushing hard for the Sexual Harassment Bill to be enacted as a law and it will go a long way in curbing sexual harassment particularly in tertiary institutions ,”advised the legislator who is also a former Johanne Marange Apostolic church member.
Early this year, there was a public outcry after a 14-year-old Memory Machaya died while giving birth at Johanne Marange church shrine.Her husband,Evans Momberume was subsequently arrested on rape and culpable homicide charges but is on bail currently.