By SHAKIRAH THEBUS
The jovialness and warmth that can regularly be experienced at the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church was absent Saturday 2 September when the Women’s Ministry associated with the Church (including Joza, Xolani, Jasper and Ghini), organised a peaceful march from Joza Clinic in Extension 7 to the Joza Police Station in same district.
They sang struggle songs and hymns and held aloft banners and placards with slogans such as ‘End It Now’, Churches are Custodians of Moral Regeneration’ and ‘Enough is Enough’ were very visible–a sentiment the women wanted to relay to the officials of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
A global initiative under the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the march was initially planned for August, as an appropriate end to the end off Women’s month. It was organised to show community members that the Adventist Church was doing its part in raising awareness about violence and sexual abuse of women and children. Young, old and even the elderly with walking sticks could be seen walking earnestly in disgust and despair at awful statistics about sexual violence and abuse.
“When it comes to abuse, no one wants to open up and we see how all the communities and churches are affected by it,” said Ruth Nombewu, the SDA’s District Secretary.
After handing in a memorandum to the Joza Station commander, the women marched to the Joza Church for a service and testimony from lay people .
Thandi Mzizi, an Institutional HIV and AIDS Officer at Rhodes University explained to the congregation the less known facts about abuse and some of its myths in order for everyone to identify abuse.
Mzizi said that violence can be physical, sexual, psychological or spiritual form, adding that the effects are not limited to the individual affected, but includes the entire community. He added that people in positions of power (‘Blessers’, ‘Spicy Mamas’ and ‘Sex for Marks’) often use their influence and status to take advantage of vulnerable individuals.The general message behind the service was to assure the congregation that church is and should be a safe, open space for those who want to report abuse