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Female priest refiles rape charges against priest

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Anglican Reverend June Major says she was raped in 2002 at the Grahamstown seminary

Reverand June Major. Photographer: Armand Hough/ANA

Cape Town – A female priest who alleges she was raped by a fellow priest refiled charges against him in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday.

Anglican Reverend June Major, 51, laid the charges at the Grahamstown police station’s Family Violence, Child Protections and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit.

Major says she was raped in 2002 at the Grahamstown seminary and has accused the clergy of doing nothing about the crime. She says she filed charges at the time, but nothing come of the case and her attacker has been able to continue with his duties.

Major was accompanied on Wednesday by human rights and gender activists from One Billion Rising South Africa (OBRSA) who travelled with her from Cape Town.

She has in recent months, gone on hunger strike to try and get the attention of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

“The laying of criminal charges is an important, but necessary step in my journey to justice. For far too long, my rapist has been protected by the Church and by society. His life has gone unchanged, he continues to minister and earn a salary in the Church, while mine has been irrevocably damaged,” Major said.

She said doing this was not just important for her own healing but a crucial step so that other victims and survivors of rape and violence would know the justice system could be fair, supportive and just.

Last month, Major accepted assistance from the Anglican safe and inclusive church commission in her bid for justice within the institution.

The commission, known as safe church, was established in 2019 and incorporates gender activists campaigning to root out abuse.

Major, accompanied by OBRSA members, returned to the house where she was raped to lay flowers, light candles, pray and meditate.

OBRSA director Lucinda Evans said the group was there to support Major because rape and violence against women in South Africa had reached pandemic proportions.

“It is beyond anything we have seen from the Covid-19 virus. We are not seeing the government take the necessary accountability to protect us and that is why this kind of solidarity on the front lines is crucial,” she said.

“Until we get strong, direct and tangible actions from the government to end the violence, we will be here raising our voices as a global movement to support women who are raped and then revictimised by society and the justice system.”

“We need more front line services for women and children – legal and medical protection services,” Evans added.