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A prayer for victims of sexual violence
Publish Date: Dec 23, 2007
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By Martin Ssempa

This Christmas I am praying for the end of sexual violence in Africa. Last week the High Court in South Africa’s Cape convicted George Mugalula who killed his five year-old stepdaughter Aakifah Salie due to marital frustrations with his wife, also Aakifah’s mother, Faiza Salie. According to court documents, Mugalula was angered and tortured by his wife’s many affairs and secret work as a prostitute at “Paradise Penthouse”, a massage parlour in Cape Town. Apparently he thought that his wife was working in a night painterly but was shocked to discover that she was listed as one of the playgirls in Paradise Penthouse. This apparently triggered off his violent behaviour which in the end was directed at the vulnerable five year-old who bore the brunt of his traumatised love.

The Bible says that, “You shall not murder” and it is never justified. We are however seeing more cases of sexual violence from husbands who kill their wives and stepdaughters. We also see wives who kill their husbands. We see girlfriends that throw acid at other women because of competition with their sexual partners. Many have tried to explain this as an issue of male violence but this is not a sufficient explanation for the violence where women attack both men and fellow women.

Love is complex and often defies simplistic definitions. When there are misunderstandings and betrayals they often go deep in the heart. We need the help of God and good communication in dealing with the issue of marital infidelity, which not only spreads HIV/AIDS but also causes much sexual violence. The Bible says, “You shall not commit adultery” which gives married people a mandate to live free of infidelity. Last Christmas we had a problem of people who anonymously sent sexually implicit bulk SMS to married people. These SMS caused suspicion, marital fights and violence. There is need to handle love and marriage with care. This December I pray for a violence free Christmas.

In late November a local daily reported that Thomas Kaggwa of Butiki killed his niece in a ritual murder and kept the body for two months. The young girl had asked for permission from her mother to visit her uncle, Kaggwa. This betrayal of family loyalty was motivated by sorcery and witchcraft. The Bible also condemns witchcraft and sorcery. Christmas reminds us that God sent His one and only son so that he would live and die for us. No other child has to die to appease the demonic spirits for whatever misguided cause.

We need the gospel to dispel the dangerously grotesque idea that sex with a virgin girl can cure HIV/AIDS. This prescription spread by African traditional healers in East and Southern Africa has multiplied sexual violence among virgin young girls and boys. There is a need to condemn this practice both by the perpetrators as well as the healers who perpetuate his dangerous idea. The Government must investigate the healers who are prescribing a treatment for HIV/AIDS, which lead to the rape and defilement of young boys and girls. This Christmas we should reflect on the bondage of darkness and the victims of these crimes. Isaiah 9 says, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. He will be the prince of peace for those who walked in great darkness.”

Finally we pray for victims of sexual violence in education settings. Many young boys and girls who have just completed P. 7 join secondary schools as potential victims. Far away from the protective voice of their parents and guardians, many become victims of sexual violence from their older bullies. Young boys are molested and young girls are defiled. Regular press coverage does not report about this violation, but the number of victims is frightening. Because these acts involve same sex violation, the crime is shrouded in secrecy, guilt and fear. With no help, many internalise their anger and rage. In turn they also wait for their turn when they become the big boys and girls in the school. They then turn onto the incoming fresh crop of senior one and molest them. This is perhaps the worst form of sexual violence when young women victimise other young women and when young men turn on younger boys; when the victim becomes the bully, creating a cycle of sexual violence.

This Christmas we need to pray and work for the victims of sexual violence that the peace of God will come to them. We also need to pray that the systems which entrench this evil will be broken. May the prince of peace bring a cessation of sexual violence in our land.

The writer is a pastor

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