Female Vicars - Copyright Jamie Wiseman / Daily Mail / REX

Female clergy call for independent mediators into CofE abuse

Thu 02 Nov 2017
By Premier Journalist

Woman church leaders are calling for sexual harassment and abuse claims in the Church of England to be reviewed by an independent mediator.

In a letter to the Guardian, Jayne Ozanne, a senior member of the general synod for the diocese of Oxford, said: "Abuse of power, particularly in relation to sexual misdemeanours, will never be dealt with by those within the same said power structures.

"The urge to protect one’s reputation is too strong.

"Make no mistake, the instances of sexual abuse and harassment within the church are manifold - at virtually every level of the hierarchy."

Ozanne says that a bishop advised her not to report her claim that a priest had raped her in the 1990s. 

“I trusted him because he was a priest,” she told Channel 4 News. “Shame and guilt is what kept me quiet and silent for so many years.”

Premier spoke to Natalie Collins, who started Spark - a group that equips churches to prevent violence against women. 

She told Premier that Christian circles may face different problems when it comes to helping people feel they can speak.

Speaking during Premier's News Hour, she said: "We have whole issues with purity culture and modesty culture which says, 'well, women, if you dress a certain way it's your fault if a man behaves in that way' and so actually for a lot of women they have been conditioned to blame themselves and say 'if he's done that to me it must be my fault'.

"The focus should more be on - instead of saying, 'what can women can be doing to speak up?', 'how should women be changing how they respond?' - we should be saying 'How do we stop men be abusive?' because that's the fundamental issue."

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