BRF Nachrichten – 21st December 2018
Suspected child abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses
New cases of child abuse in Belgium have now been reported by the National Center for the Observation of Religious Sects. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are said to have been attacked. Now, the policy should take care of it.
It is the job of Kerstin Vanderput and her staff at the Religious Cults Observatory (CIAOSN) to inform government agencies about what is going on in sects. The center was founded 20 years ago by the Ministry of Justice, operates independently of party politics and has the task of monitoring the activities of sects in Belgium.
In this capacity, the center may ask the chamber to conduct inquiries into religious sects. Whenever there is a reasonable suspicion that something is going on among the sects that violates the law.
The center rarely makes use of this possibility. But now the center has become active. Head Kerstin Vanderput reports in an interview with RTBF: “Our center has formulated a recommendation to the address of MEPs. We recommend investigating Jehovah’s Witnesses for abuse of minors within this faith community. ”
It was the work of a Dutch foundation that prompted the chamber to investigate Jehovah’s Witnesses. For more than a year, the Reclaimed Voices Foundation has been collecting testimony from people who have become victims of child abuse or witnesses to such abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Almost 300 testimonies were collected by the foundation. Last month, a court in the Netherlands ordered extensive house searches of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands.
The report of the Foundation with the testimonies also came into the hands of the Belgian Center. “We have noticed,” says Kerstin Vanderput, “that testify to the Dutch Foundation Belgian testimonies or were collected on incidents that took place in Belgium. Based on these elements, we have begun to make our own assessment. ”
That there should be child molestation among the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not new. The newspaper “Le Soir” reported Friday that two class action lawsuits had been filed in court over similar allegations in court. In the UK, The Guardian has collected more than 100 cases of child abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
How many cases it could be in Belgium is currently unclear. “At the moment we do not have an exact overview of the situation,” says Kerstin Vanderput. “That is precisely the aim of the investigation, which we request from Parliament.”
However, at the observatory for religious sects, it is believed that the number could be as large as in the Netherlands. In Belgium, the Jehovah’s Witness community is about the same size as in the Netherlands with over 25,000 people. Similar numbers of cases of abuse could therefore be possible.
In their teaching, Jehovah’s Witnesses condemn child abuse. There are also alleged to be intra-party instances dealing with allegations of child molestation within the sect.
If the suspicion is confirmed, then, says spokesman Louis Drouise, “we will immediately take the necessary steps to inform the competent authorities and take all measures to protect the child.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belgium state that there is no systematic or even ordered child abuse among them. You have already announced that you will help with any possible investigations in your community.
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