* By Fredrick Nzwili
While lighting candles at a gathering of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi, church leaders, members of the civil society and youth on Monday launched Thursdays in Black, the global movement calling for resistance to attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence.
Unveiling the campaign, Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, an African Brotherhood Church leader who is the chairman of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, urged churches to hear and give compassion to women suffering violence without asking questions.
“Sometimes, the church needs to go beyond the pulpit and that is what is lacking…we urge the church to handle these cases beyond the pulpit,” said Ndambuki amid dancing candle flames.
The miniature candles had been lit to signify commitment, gestures of love, sympathy and empathy with men and women who had suffered from gender-based violence.
Ndambuki urged the church to stop treating sexuality issues as too sacred, to help safeguard children, and to raise their voices when they fall prey.
“Social norms that justify violence must be highlighted in sermons. Girl –boy child relationships that bring some element of co-existence with respect for each other should begin from Sunday school,” added the archbishop.
The event was co-organised by the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches.
“Both girls and boys need protection. We usually pick the boy child and girl child and move along with them both. A girl child may need a lot of doing, but the boys are also being violated. Let us not leave out either,” said Rev. Pauline Wanjiru Njiru, East Africa region coordinator for the WCC Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Advocacy and Initiatives.
The event coincided with the start of the 16 Days Against Gender-based Violence. “16 Days” is an annual international campaign that begins on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day.
“To stand against is to acknowledge the problem and to take on active measures intended to fight and eradicated the vice. It is to rise and establish ground to safeguard women or men against rape so that each thrive in a climate of love, honour and respect,” said Canon Rosemary Mbogo, the provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya.
“Women, like men, bear God’s image and both are equal in personhood and only different and unique in function. The woman’s dignity and worth is affirmed,” added Mbogo.
The leader called for moral action in both policies and implementation, speaking with authority on interpersonal responsibility and the appreciation of the others in matters of human sexuality, and re-awakening of moral sense in the nations.
According to Mbogo, the pain, jealousy, deception, lies, selfishness and betrayal that cause people to hurt each other needs to be addressed.
* Fredrick Nzwili is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.