Action Society held a meeting at the end of September with church leaders in Beacon Valley in Mitchells Plain.
The engagement at the Evangelical Bible Church looked at addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in Mitchells Plain. Action Society believes that the religious fraternity plays a critical role in combatting GBV.
Action Society Community Safety Director Ian Cameron provided insight into our GBV case-oversight model, where the organisation does investigations and prosecution oversight over GBV or murder cases.
The leaders welcomed the model and will assist the organisation in helping victims of crime.
Nehemiah Call Initiative founder Dean Ramjoomia said it is concerning to hear about the number of domestic violence cases withdrawn at the court in Mitchell’s Plain.
“It is worrying to hear that almost half of these cases are withdrawn in this area, where violence is rife. There is so much that concerns me regarding the justice system; sadly, in many cases, it fails the victims,” he said.
Ramjoomia also highlighted that while many women are subjected to violence and crime, some men are also victims of sexual and general crime. He said that too needs to be tackled.
Andre Schaffer from the Beacon Valley Baptist Church said the church could not be silent.
“While there are churches that are on the forefront of protesting against violence against women and children, some are silent. But we cannot forget that there are perpetrators within churches as well, and I am saying that we, as the church, cannot be silent about that and have double standards. At the end of the day, it is about the victim because perpetrators can continue their crimes if authorities do not deal with them,” he said.
Lester Poole from the Solid Foundation Christian Church said one problem on the ground level is that some people do not want to come forward and speak about a particular incident – and there are various reasons for that.
“Some people feel the justice system is broken because it may have failed them in other instances. Some are too traumatised, so they do not come forward, and others fear for their lives if they come forward. It is therefore critical that people feel safe to report crimes against them,” he said.
Another pastor, Raymond Mentor, of the Evangelical Bible Church, said it’s time to step up, speak up, and, more importantly, keep the nation’s women and children safe.