BY: ECM’ Stella Zulu
Catholic Pastoral Agents in the country have undergone one-week training in Domestic Violence prevention in order for them to be able to prevent and respond to domestic/ intimate partner violence within the Malawian families and avoid inter-generational transmission of domestic violence, and preserve the dignity of a family.
The training which was organized by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi’s Communications and Research Commission in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops drew together Pastoral Secretaries, Communication Coordinators, Family Apostolate Chaplains, Directors of Catholic media houses, Association of Women Religious in Malawi and Catholic women organization.
The facilitator of the training Dr. Christauria Welland, a psychologist with specialization in Intimate Partner Violence, from the United States, said violence in Catholic families has become an issue that needs more effective pastoral interventions. She said that prevention of domestic violence should be incorporated into pastoral work and the training aimed at providing necessary knowledge and skills.
“The training aims at educating participants on the causes of intimate partner violence and its effects on victims, perpetrators and children, equipping participants with knowledge, skills and tools to provide effective pastoral responses and to prevent further intimate partner violence in culturally appropriate ways, “said Dr. Welland.
According to Dr. Welland, intimate partner violence affects children as they grow up to think it is acceptable and justifiable, having experienced it at their homes. She said most people who become violent in their families have a background of it from their childhood and that is why the Church has to have strategies to end inter-generational transmission on violence.
“When there is violence in the family, children suffer the most; estimates of child maltreatment indicate that nearly a quarter of adults worldwide suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse as children. We are here to raise your prophetic voice: what can you do to protect women, children and families from domestic violence and its terrible consequences as dioceses, parishes, bishops, priests, religious and catechists? Let’s remember that blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called children of God,” she said.
Bearing witness to the importance and relevance of the training, Fr. Steven Kamanga, the Pastoral Secretary of Mangochi Diocese said the training has been necessary as it has helped participants to recognize domestic violence as an issue that has to be included in pastoral programs of dioceses.
“I have personally been invited to be an agent of peace and therefore be part of the fight against domestic violence. The church preaches love and therefore, teaches against domestic violence. Violence in any form is evil whatever reason the violence is done for. It violates the very nature of the institution of marriage and must be prevented, stopped and responded to by all members of the Church in their various capacities. We have been equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools for the fight and we must indeed do so”. Said Fr. Kamanga.
He added that Catechesis, the Church teaching on domestic violence, trained committees to spearhead responses to domestic violence in the homes, and more training to produce more skilled trainers, are some of the interventions that can be taken in the fight against domestic violence.
The training was conducted from 11th to 16th of November 2018 at Our Lady of Africa Conference center in Lilongwe.