AD – 20th November 2018
PvdA: Even confessional secrecy is no argument for concealing abuse
Churches must henceforth be obliged to take action in the event of suspicions of sexual abuse. If they do not, they are complicit, according to the PvdA.
The party hopes with a duty to report the suspicion of abuse to ‘silence and look away culture’ in religious institutions to break. Everyone who works with children in the church must also have a certificate of conduct, says Kamertje Attje Kuiken, something that is already the case at sports clubs and nurseries. Kuiken argues today during the treatment of the Justice budget in the House of Representatives also for a professional ban on church officials who are convicted for abuse.
“Religion should never be a cover for this kind of terrible practice,” Kuiken refers to abuse scandals that have come to light in the Catholic Church, the Buddhist Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses in recent years. The MP spoke with victims in recent weeks and ‘became nauseated by the stories’.
She thinks that internal rules of the church should not stand in the way of abuse cases. For example, confessional secrecy can not be an argument in the Catholic Church, says Kuiken. The two-witness principle of the Jehovah’s – according to that church meant to exclude unjustified charges of sexual abuse – she calls ‘your purest insanity’. “Precisely because of the culture of coverings, victims are outlawed and offenders can go wrong so badly.”
State Secretary Sander Dekker for Legal Protection has already carried out a study into the extension of the declaration obligation, whereby third parties within religious institutions are obliged to report if they know of abuse. That research is finished after the summer.
The PvdA’s proposal, which has nine seats in the opposition, goes a long way further. Although the Christian parties will feel little for it, there seems to be a majority in the House. Coalition party VVD, for example, is not negative about it. “As long as the investigation into the declaration obligation is not delayed”, VVD member Foort van Oosten warns.
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