from ouko joachim omolo
Colleagues Home & Abroad Regional News
BY FR JOACHIM OMOLO OUKO, AJ
THURSDAY, AUGUST4, 2011
It was too painful as two Maltese priests were sentenced on Monday August 1, 2011 to 5 and 6 years in prison after they were convicted of sexually abusing boys under their care in a Catholic Church home for children more than 20 years ago. The 11 boys were aged between 13 and 16 when the abuse took place in St Joseph’s Home in the late 1980s. The victims are now in their late 30s.
Fr Charles Pulis was sentenced Monday to 6 years while Fr Godwin Scerri was jailed for 5 for abusing an undisclosed number of children. The judgment, bringing to an end an eight-year court case, was delivered in a packed courtroom as the two priests stood quietly in the dock.
Last year a Roman Catholic priest committed suicide after he was informed that he would be suspended pending an investigation of his alleged sexual abuse of a minor 29 years ago according to the Diocese of Portland’s report.
Fr James Robichaud, 56, body was found Friday morning in the rectory of Our Lady of the Snows in Dover-Foxcroft. Robichaud died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The abuse was alleged to have occurred around the time Robichaud, an Augusta native, was ordained in 1979 and assigned to St. Jean-Baptiste Parish in Lowell, Mass.
The 21-year-old, an American actress and pop singer-songwriter, Miley Ray Cyrus was in pain on Monday when it was discovered that someone bragged online and hacked her email and distributing revealing pictures of the then 15-year-old singer.
Miley Cyrus who has thrown her support behind gay marriage with a new tattoo of an equal sign, saying that all love is equal made recent headlines with her cover of the classic Fleetwood Mac song “Landslide.”
On Tuesday August 2, 2011, IRIN reported painful story of two brothers, Charles and Jacques who set off for Uganda in search of safety after the murder of their parents in January in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), only to be waylaid along the border by six men carrying machetes, sticks and guns, who took them into the forest and raped them, leaving them unconscious.
Months after eventually finding their way to Kampala, the Ugandan capital, the brothers are physically and psychologically traumatized. “There is no hope, and sometimes it leads us to hate life,” Charles, the elder, told IRIN.
Jacques is visibly in pain as he leans on his chair. “It hurts here where I got raped. Sometimes when I go to the bathroom, I suffer for hours. Before, blood flowed [from the anus], now it’s getting better but the pain is very strong,” he said, adding that he undergoes a lot of mental torment. “I can go for days without speaking to anyone.”
An estimated 23.6 percent of men from the eastern DRC regions of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu have been exposed to sexual violence during their lifetime, according to an August 2010 study by the Association of Sexual Violence and Human Rights Violations With Physical and Mental Health in Territories of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) [ http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/304/5/553.full.pdf+html?sid=1b583375-0736-444b-a4bc-2428257953d1 ].
And as Nation reports, John Mwenda was just eight years old when he was sodomised by a man old enough to be his father. For 16 years, this 24 year old man has kept this horrible secret to himself, shackled by shame, embarrassment, and fear of how people might treat him, should he speak out.
This is the first time that Mwenda is talking about what happened to him all those years ago. The physical scars healed a long time ago, but the emotional and psychological ones still torture him. He hopes that by talking about it, he will finally discover the path towards healing, but more importantly, encourage other young men like him, and boys that are too scared to reveal the men that violate them, to speak out.
According to this sad and painful story by the Nation, Mwenda was on his home from school. The school he went to was several kilometers away, and many of the children he went to school with were from neighbourhood – only a few of them would take the long walk home, although he would walk the last one kilometer or so alone, since his home was further away.
As the story goes, it was on a Friday when it happened. He remembered because he was looking forward to the weekend, since he wouldn’t go to school. He was in class three. As he walked through the familiar path that would lead him home, a man he knew approached him. He often saw him in his village, so he knew him.
Mwenda comes from Tharaka district, in Meru. He greeted him, and then asked him where h went to school, and other questions that he doesn’t really recall. After a while, he got hold of his hand and led him into a bush. He must have wondered why he did that, although he did not suspect anything sinister because he knew him.
It was not until he pulled down his shorts that he knew he was about to do something very bad to him. He tried to scream, but he covered his mouth with one of his hands. He was too strong, so he couldn’t fight back.
When he was done, he zipped his trousers. Before he left, he threatened to beat him up, and then strangle him if he ever told anyone what he had done. Mwenda waited until his footsteps faded away, and then he pulled up his shorts. The pain was so excruciating, he had no idea how he was able to get back home.
Mwenda became withdrawn, and would have recurrent nightmares. Even at that young age of eight years, he wondered why someone he knew would want to do that to him. This is what pained him most.
In yet another harrowing report by Will Storr who travelled to Uganda to meet traumatised survivors of sexual abuse reveals how male rape is endemic in many of the world’s conflicts.
For four years Eunice Owiny had been employed by Makerere University’s Refugee Law Project (RLP) to help displaced people from all over Africa work through their traumas. This particular case, though, was a puzzle. A female client was having marital difficulties. “My husband can’t have sex,” she complained. “He feels very bad about this. I’m sure there’s something he’s keeping from me.”
Owiny invited the husband in. For a while they got nowhere. Then Owiny asked the wife to leave. The man then murmured cryptically: “It happened to me.” Owiny frowned. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old sanitary pad. “Mama Eunice,” he said. “I am in pain. I have to use this.”
Laying the pus-covered pad on the desk in front of him, he gave up his secret. During his escape from the civil war in neighbouring Congo, he had been separated from his wife and taken by rebels. His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years.
And he wasn’t the only one. He watched as man after man was taken and raped. The wounds of one were so grievous that he died in the cell in front of him.” That was hard for me to take,” Owiny tells me today. “There are certain things you just don’t believe can happen to a man, you get me? But I know now that sexual violence against men is a huge problem. Everybody has heard the women’s stories. But nobody has heard the men’s.”
For example, a study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo found that 80 percent of men reported having been raped. This example demonstrates how scattered statistics of rape and defilement cases across the world it difficult to determine whether there has been an increase or decrease in rape cases in recent years.
In Nairobi Women’s Hospital alone is attending to approximately 2,500 cases of sexual and gender-based violence cases – with rape cases accounting for 21 percent – during post-election violence in the first three months of 2008, according to a 2010 report by the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development, an international NGO.
This is not to mention the 2010 annual report from the Nairobi Gender Violence Recovery Center of the Nairobi Women’s Hospital that listed 2,487 survivors of gender-based violence, with rape or defilement accounting for 85 percent.
Still, most women in the slum do not report cases of rape for fear of stigma, according to a 2010 Amnesty International report on women’s experiences in Nairobi’s slums. Some women interviewed in the report also said that the legal procedure took too long.
As BBC reports, every day women turn up at the doors of Nairobi’s hospitals and clinics telling the same story. “I could not run away. They gagged my mouth and pinned me down,” one woman remembers. “After raping me they blindfolded me and led me to a nearby forest. That’s where they left me.”
Her experience – doctors, officials and the UN say – is echoed by hundreds of other women who have survived a spiralling number of sexual attacks. Many are gang rapes, carried out by groups of armed men.
Only a small percentage of women actually come to receive medical treatment and counselling in the immediate aftermath of a sexual attack. It means they do not get access to the drugs which might prevent the onset of HIV.
People for Peace in Africa (PPA)
P O Box 14877