Gender and Behaviour

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Clergymen and victims’ reporting of sexual abuse in Lagos, Nigeria: a qualitative study

Johnson Oluwole Ayodele


By their sacred oaths, clergymen are expected to protect congregants from spirit-induced troubles. Ironically, these mentors sometimes become tormentors. This study examines the reporting practices of victims of clergy sexual violence in selected Lagos’ churches. It used purposive sampling to select the study locations. Once it identified the initial participants, it used a snowball sampling technique to further identify more study participants from the study site. Data collection methods included focus group discussions, key informant and in-depth interviews. Data were put into themes and different sections in accordance with the study objectives for analysis. Ethnographic summaries were used to validate secondary information. The study found the culture of priestly celibacy as the origin of sexual offences. Priests used money and stigmatisation as a means of preventing victims from reporting their victimizations. It concludes that predatory clergymen betray their vows by using their spiritual authority to prey on congregants, intimidate, and prevent them from reporting the abuse. It suggests that the Christendom should end priestly celibacy, sanction predating priests, devise new ways of preventing smoke of Satan in the church (Filteau, 2004), and restore the institution’s integrity as a place of refuge for at-risk congregants.

Keywords: Clergymen, Female Congregants, Reporting, Sexual Abuse, Lagos, Nigeria

AJOL African Journals Online