Vatican Revives Pope’s Sexual Abuse Panel

 Pope Francis (L) greeting Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, on June 28, 2017.
HO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO / AFP

 

The Vatican said Saturday it has renewed its anti-paedophile panel as Pope Francis acts to quell the global scandal over the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Nine new members were added to the panel, which had come under fire from two high-profile members, former sex abuse victims who quit at what they saw as a lack of reforms and obstruction at the highest level of the Catholic Church.

US Cardinal Sean O’Malley was confirmed as the head of the child protection panel along with seven other incumbent members.

“The newly-appointed members will add to the commission’s global perspective in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” O’Malley said in a statement.

“The Holy Father has ensured continuity in the work of our commission, which is to assist local churches throughout the world in their efforts to safeguard all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm.”

As well as O’Malley, the panel is now made up of eight men and eight women, including victims of abuse, the Vatican said.

It was set up in 2014 shortly after Francis was elected pope, but its work came in for strong criticism last year.

Irishwoman Marie Collins, who was raped by a hospital chaplain at the age of 13, quit the panel in March last year in protest at what she said was the “shameful” blocking of reforms.

Briton Peter Saunders, another sex abuse victim, also left in 2016 after a row over the panel’s handling of allegations of serial abuse by an Italian priest.

The announcement of the revival of the committee came just days after it was revealed that Francis held regular private meetings with people abused by members of the priesthood.

The pope has described the scandal as a “great humiliation” for the Catholic Church.

But he has been attacked for supporting Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up crimes by a paedophile priest.

AFP

Trump Laments ‘Shattered’ Lives After Aides Resign

US President Donald Trump’s White House has been heavily criticised for its handling of sexual misconduct allegations       Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

President Donald Trump on Saturday said that lives were being “shattered” by allegations that may be false after two of his White House aides quit over domestic abuse accusations.

Trump’s White House has been heavily criticised for its handling of the allegations, which come amid a national debate over sexual misconduct and how it should be dealt with. Critics say the president’s chief of staff, John Kelly, has badly mishandled the matter and that his future may be in doubt.

“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump tweeted.

“Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

The remark by the president — himself the target of numerous harassment claims — came after White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned on Friday, even while denying his wife’s claims of abuse.

And staff secretary Rob Porter stepped down Wednesday after abuse allegations from two former wives became public. He called the allegations “outrageous” and “simply false.”

Trump not only accepted Porter’s claim of innocence but praised him for doing “a very good job” and offered his wishes for “a wonderful career” ahead.

The president has stood by other men — including Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate — when they faced allegations of abuse or harassment, while rarely expressing sympathy for their women accusers.

‘A good person’

He supported former Fox News executive Roger Ailes, who since has died, amid harassment allegations. And after Fox fired popular talk show host Bill O’Reilly amid reports of payouts over harassment claims, Trump called him “a good person.”

The president, meantime, has vociferously denied charges from more than a dozen women that he is guilty of sexual harassment or abuse.

His latest tweet comes at a time when many Republicans would prefer to see Trump keep the spotlight on a generally healthy economy and December’s big tax cuts.

With key midterm elections approaching in November, they would also like to move away from the narrative of a White House in disarray. But the tweet Saturday suggests that the latest resignations — particularly Porter’s — were jolting at the highest levels.

Porter worked directly with Kelly, the chief of staff, and was considered a skilled insider. Kelly’s uneven response to the matter has raised questions about his own future.

An FBI background check last year had uncovered the allegations of abuse by Porter, but he was allowed to remain in his job.

When those accusations became public on Tuesday — the Daily Mail of London published a photo of one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye — Kelly at first strongly defended his aide.

He later issued a statement condemning domestic violence and saying he was “shocked” by the new allegations. He insisted to White House officials that he had quickly pushed Porter out once the allegations proved credible, the Washington Post reported.

Others in the White House told the newspaper that Kelly — who was installed in his current post in July to help bring order and stability to the White House — had known of the complaints since October.

Sexual misconduct claims have brought down a growing list of influential men in politics, the media, the entertainment industry and other sectors since the scandal over decades of alleged abuse by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein erupted in October.

AFP

Pope Francis Apologises For Comments On Accused Bishop

 

Pope Francis Apologises For Comments On Accused Bishop
Pope Francis answers journalists during a press conference on board of the plane on January 22, 2018, during his flyback of a seven days trip to Chile and Peru. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

 

Pope Francis on Monday apologised to victims of sexual abuse after he caused outrage by appearing to support a controversial Chilean bishop.

The pope acknowledged he had “hurt” people by suggesting there was no “proof” against Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up another priest’s abuse of boys.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander. Is this clear?” the Argentine pontiff said abruptly on Thursday when questioned by journalists in Chile.

The pope also shocked many by giving Barros a hug during his visit.

“I have to present my apologies because the word ‘proof’ has hurt so many victims of abuse,” Francis said at a press conference on the flight back to Rome.

“To hear the pope tell them to their faces, ‘bring me a letter with the proof’, it’s a slap and I realise now that my expression was unfortunate,” he said.

However, Francis said the Vatican had investigated Barros, without finding “any element to condemn him”.

Running the risk of displeasing people in Chile, where Catholicism is falling, he said he was “convinced” of the bishop’s innocence.

“You tell me that there are victims, but I did not see them,” he said.

Zero-tolerance

On the plane, he said he should have used the term “incriminating evidence”.

“The word ‘proof’ was not the best to bring me closer to an aching heart,” he conceded. “I know there are many people who are abused and cannot prove anything.”

“I know how much they suffer,” insisted Francis, who met privately in Chile with two victims of paedophile priests. According to the Vatican, he “prayed and cried” with them.

“The tragedy of the victims of abuse is horrible, horrible. Two months ago, I was in contact with a woman who was a victim 40 years ago.

“Now married with three children, the woman hadn’t spoken about it since, because in the hand of the priest, she saw the hand of her sexual abuser,” the pope said.

On Saturday, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley — who heads a paedophile commission undergoing an overhaul in the Vatican — emphasised Francis’s sincerity when he advocated a zero-tolerance policy against paedophilia in the Catholic Church.

But in an unusual criticism of the pope, he had judged as “understandable” that his words could have caused “great pain”.

“His statement was very fair,” the pope said on the plane.

“He recalled everything I did and what I do, and what the Church does, and then he spoke of the pain of the victims.”

The pope’s six-day visit to Chile and Peru end by him celebrating an open-air Mass on Sunday for more than a million people in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

In Peru, he also spoke out against political corruption in the region and dangers to indigenous people.

In Chile, he visited a women’s prison and prayed with survivors of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

AFP

Church Told Me I Couldn’t Do My Kind Of Poetry – Janette…Ikz

Janette...IkzGospel artiste, Janette…Ikz says her journey into poetry was not particularly easy as her church was not in support of the nature that her poetry took.

Speaking to Channels TV, she said that her messages which usually tended to lean towards her past struggles with sexual, physical and verbal abuse seemed to make the church uncomfortable and ultimately, almost led to her quitting the craft.

“It kinda (kind of) got to a point where it was like they didn’t really want me to cover the subject matters I was covering.

“The church wasn’t talking about those types of issues, so they told me I could do other poetry but I couldn’t do my poetry, and it really hurt”, she said.

She, however, added that she found encouragement once again when her brother and his friend took her to Leimert Park and began to expose her to the possibilities that lay within the craft and the extent to which poetry could be appreciated.

“I remember seeing a lady and she was doing a poem about D’Angelo and she said ‘I just wanna run barefoot through his cornrows’ and at that point, I was like I need be good at my craft. You don’t wanna be whack and represent Christ.’

She stated that her journey towards improving her craft met with several obstacles but she pulled through because she humbly took the discouragement and channeled the energy towards doing more.

 

Kano Government Shuts Down School For Alleged Sodomy

sodomyThe Kano State Government has directed the immediate closure of Hassan Gwarzo Boarding Secondary School over allegations of sexual abuse on the male students.

The Deputy Governor, Professor Hafizu Abubakar, in a statement signed by his Press Secretary, Usman Bello, said that having received a report of homosexual abuse on some boys of the college, a 14-man committee has been set up to immediately investigate the situation and report back to government for appropriate actions.

“I was particularly concerned about this unfortunate incident and I want you within two weeks to critically investigate the case of sodomy at Hassan Gwarzo Collage,” he said

The committee’s terms of reference include identifying the culprit and recommending to the government, the appropriate actions to be taken on both the school and the proprietors of the college.

Hassan Gwarzo is a private boarding secondary school for both boys and girls in Kano, North West Nigeria, but the case of sodomy was reported at the boys’ hostel in Sallari Quaters, Kano.

It was alleged that some boys were sexually abused by some unknown men.

Culture Of Silence In Nigeria And Rising Gender Based Violence

Sexual_violenceTalks on violence against women in Nigeria in recent times is slowly becoming regular, as cases of gender based violence continues on a rapid rise.

From rape cases to kidnap of girls and women in northern part of Nigeria, these crimes have remained unabated.

A girl was forced into child marriage in which she suffered abuse and constant battery until her husband died.

She was forced to remarry, taking along her daughter who again was abused by her step-father who also continued to abuse and batter her mother.

An ‘Epidemic’

Another child suffered consistent defilement by two men, suffering psychological damages until she became addicted to sex. she is still nine years old, but addicted to sex.

These are just some of the many common cases women in Nigeria face and many times theses cases are unreported and without support or immediate solution. Some gender activists have called it an ‘epidemic’.

Gender activists say the culture of silence, weak laws and lack of support for victims of violence against women and girls are some reasons for increase in the crime.

As at 2006, a national survey puts percentage of victims of gender violence and abuse at 64.5% and this has multiplied in the last eight years.

The reason for this prevalence, according to Founder, Women Aid Initiative, Dr. Joy Ezeilo, is the weak nature of the laws, wrong socialisation and lack of information.

India and South Africa are top on the list of countries with a high rate of Gender Based Violence.

Gender activists, Kate Henshaw, Aisha Babangida and Christine Kay fear Nigeria runs a risk of topping that chart unless  actions are taken now to address the trend.

Experts have also said that violence against women was not women’s issue but that of the men who are the perpetrators, and also society’s business, which needed to be tackled decisively.

In Nigeria, besides the culture of silence and societal stigmatisation, information for women and the vulnerable as well as support for victims are still grossly inadequate making the fight against gender based violence a long walk yet to begin. These are some of the challenges needed to be addressed in order to end the increasing rate of Gender Based Violence.

Angelina Jolie And William Hague Call For Action Against Rape

angelina jolieBritish Foreign Secretary, William Hague, alongside Hollywood actress, Angelina Jolie on Wednesday launched an international protocol on how to document and investigate sexual violence in conflict.

“If all countries applied these standards then it will greatly strengthen prosecutions for rape in conflict and help to secure a dramatic increase in successful convictions,” Hague said.

The pair is co-chairing the summit at the ExCel conference centre in London’s docklands, which runs until June 13.
Up to 1,200 government ministers, military and judicial officials and activists from about 150 nations are attending the four day conference, which is a call for action to protect women, children and men from rape and sex attacks in war zones.

“The courage of survivors and activists must now be matched by the determination of governments and that is why this summit aims to galvanise the international community into action,” Hague said at the launch.

Actress Jolie, who is also special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that impunity for sexual crimes in conflict zones is an “intolerable situation” and called for justice for victims.

“We all know how hard it is to secure convictions for rape even in stable democratic countries, so we have to work even harder to make justice possible in fragile countries, and that is the purpose of this protocol,” she said.

Jolie’s involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she travelled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and saw the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.

Hague became involved in Jolie’s campaign against sexual violence in war zones after being alerted to the issue following the actress’s 2011 directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, that was set against the backdrop of the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 20,000 women believed raped.

In 2013, the unusual partnership led to the launch of a declaration, now signed by about 150 countries, pledging to end impunity and provide justice and safety for victims but Hague said the summit would take this further.

Nigeria Police Dismisses Officer For Raping 4 Year Old Girl

Police squadA corporal of the Mobile Police Force, who was attached to the Special Task Force in Plateau State, Damadu Bzibu has been dismissed by the Nigeria Police for raping a four-year old girl.

Plateau State Police Commissioner, Chris Olakpe, during the quarterly press briefing on the activities of the command, disclosed that after the orderly room trial of the accused, Bzibu was dismissed and handed over to the criminal investigation department for further prosecution in the court.

Prior to this revelation, Bzibu’s identity was concealed, following the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, which reportedly occurred in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, last month.

Briefing journalists on the achievement of the command during the first quarter of the year, commissioner Olakpe explained that the Nigeria Police will not tolerate indiscipline or acts capable of bringing the police into disrepute.

According to him, the security personnel attached to his command were able to apprehend some criminals involved in various crimes across the state ranging from car theft, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide, as well as armed robbery and cow theft with some dangerous weapons recovered from the suspects.

On Bzibu’s sexual abuse against a four year old girl, one of the concerned organisations, the Child Protection Network (CPN), represented by Tony Obemeasor, has written a petition for the transfer of the child defilement case to the Ministry of Justice in Plateau State for prosecution.

The BEAM: How Movies, Music Contribute To Child Pornography – Fowowe

The guest on this edition of the programme,  Sexuality Education Strategist, Praise Fowowe, speaks on how movies and music children are exposed to contribute to child pornography.

According to Mr Fowowe, there are two types of sexual abuse against children: Abuse by Orientation and Abuse by Interraction.

He also explained that the roles the music and movie industries play in creating culture which affects children.

Population Commission Campaigns Against Teenage Pregnancy

The National Population Commission has increased its efforts in curbing the rate of teenage pregnancy in Nigeria.

According to a Federal Commissioner representing Plateau state at the National Population Commission, Cecilia Dapoet, the root causes of the trend include poverty, sexual abuse, ignorance as well as cultural and religious beliefs.

She added that cases of teenage pregnancy have been on the increase in the country.

“Teenage pregnancy not only imposes severe health and psychological strains on the baby and teen mothers but also have long term negative impacts on sustainable development efforts,” she said.

As part of the activities to commemorate the 2013 World Population Day themed, “adolescent pregnancy”, the commission organised a press briefing, round table discussion, road float to help raise awareness.

Majority of adolescent births occur in low and middle income countries and more likely among poor, less educated and rural population.