Trouw – 25th May 2018
The closed nature of Jehovah’s Witnesses stands in the way of abuse
When the cesspool of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands finally opened in the spring of 2010, it was a matter of weeks: the Dutch bishops set up an external, independent committee to map out the abuse in the church. bring.
Now there is still a lot to be said about the approach to sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, but the Dutch Jehovah’s Witnesses can take an example to the urgency with which this committee of inquiry was set up.
After this newspaper reported last year, it has become clear that the sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s and the way in which that community deals with it is a big and serious problem. At the victim organization that was established in the autumn, nearly three hundred people have reported themselves.
The Jehovah’s use an internal legal system that they deem to be higher than the judicial system. This approach works traumatizing for victims, perpetrators get away with mild punishments or are kept out of the wind, according to the stories of abuse victims.
The pressure on the Jehovah’s Witnesses to have an external commission investigate is considerable. But the Jehovahs do not care about that. We have already done enough to protect minors against abuse, so is the defense. That is very unsatisfactory, first and foremost for the victims, and it gives the impression of a cover-up.
Minister Dekker is investigating whether the obligation to declare for third parties should be extended in cases of sexual abuse, because the Jehovah’s can not be forced to conduct an independent investigation. And because he finds it undesirable that sexual offenses are only dealt with internally by movements like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This could mean that organizations (all organizations, not just the Jehovah’s Witnesses) are obliged to report it to the police if they know about child abuse.
That the minister is looking for ways to free the victims of sexual abuse from the Jehovah’s Witnesses is obviously to be welcomed. But there are quite a few hooks and eyes on the extension of the declaration obligation. There are many organizations where combating and tackling abuse seems to be reasonably well organized.
Expansion of the declaration obligation could create new problems there and it will not be able to break open the closed world of the Jehovah’s. It would be good if Dekker continues to increase the pressure on the Jehovah’s Witnesses to institute research. Not that with such an investigation all the problems are from the world, but it can be a first important step to turn the inward-looking attitude for victims into such a difficult situation.
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Also read: Abuse is handled indoors
Trouw did a long time research into sexual abuse at Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands. Interviews with victims and (former) members and internal documents show that cases are handled indoors and abuse is almost never done. Read all articles on this subject here.
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