Final Draft version, 12 September 2014
A cry from the heart of Africa
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
As we look at the extent of human trafficking and gender-based violence across Africa, we cry, in the name of Jesus Christ, “Enough is enough”. The travesty, injustice, immorality and inhumanity of these crimes require an integrated response. This declaration records our commitment to speak and act, in collaboration with governments, international agencies, other faith groups, civil society, local churches and communities.
Our Africa consultation was held in Livingstone, Zambia during the country’s Jubilee year, celebrating 50 years of independence. We commend the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Community Development who addressed our consultation. The Zambian Government has enacted legislation on anti-trafficking and domestic violence and increased financial resources to address trafficking issues. We call on other Governments to follow their example.
The church has the opportunity to be an agent of transformation throughout Africa. While respecting our nations’ cultures and traditional practices, we challenge those which conflict with the Bible and are harmful to our citizens, especially women and children.
We see the heart of God for the marginalised, the poor and the victims of crime, whether that be domestic or sexual violence, child abuse, forced labour or sex trafficking. We also see how this affects our communities and church families. We believe that this is the generation God is calling the church in Africa to challenge all forms of gender-based violence and human trafficking.
No violence is acceptable.
Our vision is to see secure communities characterised by restored relationships with God, self and each other.
Our hearts are breaking as we hear statistics and stories of human violence, including within the church. We recognise that teaching within the church, based on inappropriate interpretations of the Bible, has been used to justify violence and abuse. We call on the church to join us in repenting for our lack of action in response to gender-based violence and human trafficking. For too long we have been silent in the face of abuse and have instead demonstrated compromise and tolerance of sin. We mourn and repent over the extent of sexual abuse and other gender-based violence within the church and our communities. We apologise to the women and children affected by this abuse.
We commit to ending violence against women and children…………………………
We are appalled by the evidence that highlights the prominence of gender-based violence in Africa. We note that such abuse affects both men and women, but that women suffer the most. In a number of African countries, more than half of all women have experienced physical or sexual violence. We acknowledge that violence takes many forms and also includes emotional, psychological, financial and spiritual abuse. We declare that domestic and sexual violence is never a private affair but is a concern of us all, and that perpetrators must be held to account for their crimes.
- We commit ourselves to prayer and to working with governments and other agencies as part of a concerted movement to rid Africa of all forms of gender-based violence.
- We commit to working for an end to domestic violence.
- We commit to working to end sexual violence within families and in wider society, including in conflict situations.
- We commit to working to end harmful cultural practices.
We commit to the eradication of human trafficking in all of its forms……………….
Human trafficking dehumanizes the image of God in both the victim and the trafficker. Prostitution damages and degrades all involved. We are deeply concerned by statistics of trafficked people in Africa, including two thirds of the world’s child soldiers.
- We commit to protecting our young children through education programmes that make them safe from trafficking.
- We commit to presenting programmes in our community that teach about human trafficking.
- We commit to implementing church programmes to address prostitution, slave labour and any forms of human trafficking or abuse that affect our communities.
We commit to local churches becoming safe spaces for the survivors of abuse…..
The church needs to be a safe place for the survivors of violence and a challenge and an accountability mechanism for perpetrators to help them to change their actions. We recognise that people want to see the face of Jesus, not just to hear about him. We lament that the Church has lost its commitment to integral mission and maintain that the Church needs to preach and demonstrate the whole gospel.
- We commit to supporting and not rejecting the survivors of violence.
- We commit to following and imitating Jesus in his respect for women and children and his love for prostitutes and other excluded groups.
- We commit to reviewing our theology and to challenging any teaching that exacerbates or perpetuates violence.
We commit to men speaking out alongside women…………………………………
We affirm that gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue. Indeed, it is the attitudes and actions of men that need to change if such violence is to end. If men were not willing to buy sex for money then the basis of trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution would no longer exist. We honour all men willing to stand up, speak out and be positive role models on these issues. The men at this summit recognise their responsibility to respect all women and to challenge each other.
- We commit to developing new understandings of masculinity based on the person of Jesus Christ.
- We commit to challenging the growing tide of pornography and prostitution in our own lives, in our churches and in the wider community.
- We commit to not rejecting women affected by violence, but to love them within marriage and in the broader community and help them to be restored to fullness of life in Christ.
A call to action
We call on churches and Christian organisations to take practical action to implement this declaration. This includes standing and speaking out for justice and mercy as part of a commitment to hold people with power to account in line with their responsibilities.
We call on all church leaders to be accountable to other leaders in the context of church hierarchies or local networks. We declare that no Christian leader should remain in their ministry if they are guilty of sexual or domestic abuse. We agree that the consequence of such actions should be faced by the perpetrators so as to lead to repentance evidenced through the fruit of transformation.
We recognise that the root causes of human trafficking and gender-based violence are social, economic, political and spiritual. We call on all media to respect and safeguard the dignity of women and children in their programmes, publications and advertising, and to campaign positively to end gender-based violence and human trafficking.
A call to action on gender-based violence
- Encourage and challenge Christian leaders to be positive role models.
- Mobilise men to respect women, challenge each other and speak out against violence against women and children in all forms.
- Make our churches safe places for survivors of violence.
- Intervene and not remain silent where we believe that violence is occurring in a relationship or in a family.
- Educate ourselves and our congregations to understand more about the causes, consequences and prevention of gender-based violence. We will encourage churches to develop and implement charters and policies.
- Include these issues in our teaching, preaching and programmes in the church and in the community.
- Encourage and work with local services that support women. We will find out what services are available and make appropriate information available in our churches.
- Address issues within the church. We will take seriously and investigate any allegations of abuse within our congregations.
A call to action on trafficking
- Raise awareness of human trafficking in all its forms and work to end it.
- Encourage churches to establish safe houses.
- Stand against the xenophobia and abuse that are often targeted against vulnerable migrants in our societies
- Identify and warn against bogus job offers in our own countries and abroad that lure young people into slavery and trafficking.
- Network with other stakeholders in order to share resources and to encourage one another.
- Support rigorous research on the causes and extent of human trafficking.
- Create safe areas for survivors of human trafficking.
- Establish helplines in all countries to receive free calls from people in distress or wanting to give tip-offs regarding human trafficking.
- Support reintegration of survivors into the community and society at large.
- Train the church so they can in turn train community members on social justice issues.
A call to action for Governments
The greatest need is for bold and courageous leadership to address these challenges. Governments in Africa have key responsibilities in these areas, supported by the church and civil society. We highlight the need for governments to strengthen legislative, law enforcement and judicial responses to ensure that deterrent action is taken against anyone involved in gender based violence or human trafficking. We call on all governments to adopt and implement the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on the rights of women in Africa (2003), to implement the Plan of Action on Violence Prevention in Africa agreed at the third session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Health in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007, as well as relevant regional commitments. We call on all governments throughout Africa to ensure that they:
i) enact the required laws against trafficking and gender-based violence;
ii) implement these laws in ways that are accessible and supportive to anyone affected by violence;
iii) ensure that prosecutors, police, medical and other staff are appropriately trained to respond to survivors of violence;
iv) ensure that traffickers and perpetrators of violence are arrested, convicted and appropriately sentenced;
v) engage with other governments to address transnational and national trafficking;
vi) ensure that all politicians and public employees, including teachers and police, respect women and girls and never demand sexual favours in exchange for offers of employment, school grades or other services;
vii) tackle corruption and ensure that it does not deny access to justice;
viii) establish national task forces to address human trafficking and other social justice issues;
ix) support the establishment of safe houses and refuges by NGOs;
x) establish an operational national emergency number;
xi) implement a national policy on pornography;
xii) make available a human trafficking awareness programme for every school child in Africa;
xiii) implement victim identification training in all clinics and hospitals;
xiv) engage radio, television and other media in awareness raising programmes and highlighting human trafficking crimes;
xv) adequately train peacekeeping troops to respond appropriately to trafficking and gender-based violence and not to become perpetrators.
We will review the implementation of this declaration on a biennial basis.
Micah is a global Christian network bringing together expertise, theological reflection, good practice and learning from around our world. Micah is a movement which promotes an approach to our Christian faith that relates God’s ongoing revelation to all aspects of our lives, challenging us to live out what we say we believe. Integral mission challenges and calls us to respond to our world in a relevant and contextual manner, rooted in the Gospel, seeking to be agents of change and reflecting God’s Kingdom here and now.
Micah draws on over 700 members from 88 countries who represent aid organisations, missions organisations, colleges, businesses, local churches and individuals to raise awareness on issues of poverty, injustice, conflict and environmental degradation. Micah commits to hold local, national and global leaders to account for their commitment, role and responsibility to improve, care for and justly deal with their communities, nations and world.
In response to the growing concern of gender based violence and human trafficking in Africa, Micah convened a consultation in Livingstone, Zambia to explore together how a more integrated response could impact this injustice. Micah members, interested organisations and experts, came together from 10 nations during the 8th to 12th September 2014 under the overarching theme of Integral Mission and Freedom. Our hosting member in Zambia was the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and cooperation was done with STOP Trafficking People (SA), Restored and Compassion International. For more information: www.micahnetwork.org.Back to resources