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.