As we’ve noted on this site before, several former members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been going public with claims of sexual abuse they experienced while in the religion.
The problem isn’t just that the Watchtower Society (which oversees the JWs) didn’t stop the abuse; it’s that they didn’t do enough even after the problems were brought to their attention.
That’s, in part, due to their own awful policies, like the “Two-Witness rule,” which says church elders shouldn’t take a victim’s account of abuse seriously unless another person witnessed it… even though the only other person around may have been the abuser himself.
In 2016, Australia’s Royal Commission issued a report saying kids were not “adequately protected from the risk of sexual abuse” in the organization. And earlier this year, there was a $66 million class action lawsuit filed in Canada against the Witnesses.
It looks like the floodgates have opened.
The Guardian is now saying that they’ve been contacted by more than 100 people with stories about abuse with the JW organization in the UK, “including 41 alleged victims of child sexual abuse.”Their stories, some anonymous and some not, are horrifying to read:
One alleged victim, Rachel Evans, who has waived her right to anonymity, claimed there was a paedophile ring active in the 1970s, although details of the case cannot be divulged due to a current investigation.
Another victim, who did not want to be named, said she was abused by a ministerial servant (someone with congregational responsibilities) in the organisation in the 1970s.
“I was sexually abused many times a week from the age of three until I was 12. Congregation elders knew that when I told them, at 12, what had been happening. No steps were taken to tell the police. I had to tell three male senior figures what had happened. Imagine that? A young girl telling a bunch of men what this man did to me. I wasn’t even allowed to have my mother there with me.”
There are so many more disturbing stories where those came from.
The problem isn’t a few wayward religious leaders. The problem is the entire institution. It prevents abuse from being exposed and perpetrators from being punished. Unless there are serious changes from within, the abuse isn’t going to end.
(Image via Shutterstock. Portions of this article were published earlier)