Archbishop George Takeli, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, has spoken out after a spate of high-profile cases of sexual violence against girls in the Solomon Islands. The Archbishop, who is also Bishop of Central Melanesia, issued a statement in his role as chairman of the ecumenical Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) to “condemn acts of sexual violence against our children and girls as reported by the daily media in past weeks.” Amongst them is the alleged rape of a six-year-old girl by a 70-year-old man in the Western Province earlier this month.
“We strongly condemn ‘acts of violence in every form’, and declared that sexual violence against our children and girls is ‘sin by its painful dishonest exploitation, and a crime against humanity’”, he said, referring to the ecumenical group that brings together the United Church in the Solomon Islands, the Catholic Church, the Church of Nazarene, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the South Sea Evangelical Church, and the Anglican Church of Melanesia.
His statement was intended to “convey the position of SICA on this immoral action committed against our children and girls in families and communities around our country,” he said. “As leaders of member churches [of SICA], we want to jointly express our serious pastoral concerns over reports of regular occurrences of cases of sexual violence against our children and girls in some communities around our country.
“We want to assure victims of these acts of sexual violence and their families our prayers and support.
“We declare that men of whatever age, status, race or relationship in the family or community, do not have the right to freely advance their personal desires to cause violence, especially sexual violence against children and girls in their families or communities. We are concerned that the actions of only a few in our communities had influenced the belief that men are the perpetrators of violence in the family, communities and nation.
“We believe that in the scriptures, man is not presented as the perpetrator of violence, but as: the image of God (Gen 1:26), the presence of God in the family (Gen 2:7), the manager of God’s family (Gen 2:15), and an agent of Change (Gen 2:4b-21). We believe that men are entrusted with the highest moral or spiritual responsibility to be ‘father leaders’, witnessing the presence of God in the family, an agent of change and channel of healing and hope for the family. And so the children, both boys and girls and the whole family can find love and care and hope for the future from the man in the family.”
He continued: “We urge men and especially elderly men in our nation to recognise that as men we cannot do this work alone, as affirmed by the Holy Scriptures (Gen 2:18), but must work with our mothers and women to carry out these duties to build safe, happy and prosperous homes for every family and community in our nation.