Women lawyers clash with Apostles

The Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association has clashed with members of Johanne Marange Apostolic sect over the child abuse cases believed to be rampant in the popular religious group.

At an awareness meeting held at Zireva primary school Mavis Madume of ZWLA urged villagers to be conscious of the laws that protect women and children.

“Times have changed. It is no longer acceptable to view women as second-class citizens. Long time ago, it was also held that children had no rights. The modern world wisdom now accepts that we are all equal citizens with equal rights,” Madume said.

Some men from the sect loudly criticized these comments describing them as ‘unholy’. They accused ZWLA of trying to destroy their family ties and the social fabric by teaching “anti-biblical” messages.

“As community and church leaders from the mapositori sect we do not accept that at all. How can we (men) be equal with women? It is there in the bible that women will always be under men,” said a member of the sect only identified as Madzibaba Paul.

Tempers flared when ZWLA threatened legal action against the religious sect over the alleged abuses of children and women in the community in the sect.

Children and women within the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect are not allowed to seek medical attention and in some cases some of the girls are not allowed to go to school. It is also reported that girls are forced into marriage below the age of consent. Little girls are also forced into polygamous marriages.

Chief Nyashanu, who attended the meeting, took a swipe at those who abused children and women in the community saying the law should take its course and perpetrators should be given deterrent measures.

“Those who abuse women should be punished and the courts should pass deterrent sentences to deter potential offenders. Women are human beings who have rights that must also be respected,” said the Chief.

He added that the community should support women’s empowerment programmes.

ZWLA also took the opportunity to explain to villagers the legal provisions of the Child Guardianship and Custody Act, the Domestic Violence Act and women and child related constitutional provisions. The meeting was organized by ZWLA in collaboration with an association of Independent Churches in Zimbabwe and Africa.

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