May 25, 2017 Last Updated 1:08 PM, May 23, 2017

Rape in the name of religion

The vulnerable misled

AFTER two convictions and with a third pastor still on trial for rape, social media discussions in Fiji have shifted from the gravity of the crime to moral analysis of the victims. Leaving no stones unturned, questions are peeling the layers off the word innocence and laying accountability at the feet of the victims. At the same time, however, they discuss the irony of pastors who carry out their supposedly holy work while preying on the community.

Modern-day wolves clothed as sheep, to borrow from Biblical descriptions. Out of fear, people are now questioning the influential strength of churches whose teachings sway women towards carrying out the extreme demands of the pastors. In a recent court appearance, a teenager, her mother and a third woman testified to having consensual sexual intercourse with 75-year-old Pastor Iowane Vakadranu in order to receive his healing powers.

Apparently Vakadranu convinced the women that as shepherd of the flock he had the right to have sex with members of his congregation. It was through the testimony of two other members of his church who spurned Vakadranu’s advances that he now serves a 14-year sentence in Korovou Prison. 

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Silence of the rams

A WHITE New Zealander sits on a couch and spreads his legs from the knees, feet close together. He forms his arms, heavily tattooed, into a downward circle. “They would make us sit down between their legs, and they would put their feet between our legs,” he tells Islands Business. “If we tried to move, they would- ” he jerks his heels back, hard, thumping against the bottom of the couch “ -kick us in the balls.”

In his late 50’s, the man is demonstrating a method of abuse used against him and other boys, when they were children under state care. He recounts the memory flatly, without emotion, eyes expressionless. Rolls a cigarette from homegrown tobacco.

“And that was just one of the minor things, not counting all the other stuff they did to us.” He stares back, no anger, silent, like a ram in a field. That silence is an ingrained part of New Zealand culture, hiding numerous Maori and Pacific Islands victims, but many Europeans as well.

learwater, commenting on the official Facebook page for MSSAT, the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse a trust he founded.

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