Black Pentecostal Churches urged to act on trafficking and exploitation

14 July 2017

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A TWO-YEAR STUDY of the grow­ing problem of sexual violence and trafficking has identified a need for Black Pente­­costal Churches in the UK to do more to tackle it.

The report, Behind Closed Doors, published last month, was funded by Churches Together in England (CTE). It calls for the raising of awareness among churches of the early signs of abuse, to encourage increased reporting to police, and the development of theological re­­sources to challenge some of the voices among church leaders who support the gender inequality un­­der­­pinning violence against women.

The report, by the Revd Dr Carrie Pemberton Ford, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Applied Re­­search in Human Trafficking, says: “The power and gender imbalance in leadership in some of our Pentecostal church members seriously affects reporting and re­­cog­­nition of the criminality and complete unacceptability of violence against women and chil­­dren per­petrated in society and con­­se­quently present in our churches.”

The chair of the CTE, the Revd Dr David Cornick, said that Pentecostal Churches offered a “unique bridge” between British and African culture in the UK.

He said: “We have rejoiced in the growth of migrant Christian com­­munities in our midst. . . In the last few years there has been a marked increase in trafficking from Nigeria and other West African countries. That means that we have churches in our membership who are likely to have encountered (probably un­­know­ingly) women caught up in this awful experience.”

Women brought into domestic servitude in the UK are frequent victims of sexual abuse “behind the closed door of the domestic space”, the report says.

It also acknowledges con­­­cerns among West African church com­munities over reporting sus­pected offences, particularly given the pub­lic mood on cutting migration.

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