UK to investigate child sexual abuse in more faith organisations

UK to investigate child sexual abuse in more faith organisations May 4, 2019
A 2018 UK protest against abuse and shunning within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Image via YouTube

The UK’s Independent Inquiry into  Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is to widen its probe to include a range of religious organisations including the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The new investigation is separate from the inquiry’s ongoing examinations of child protection and abuse in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, and will now investigate nonconformist Christian denominations, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Hinduism.

The investigation will also cover religious settings such as mosques, synagogues, churches and temples. Places where children are taught about faith, such as Muslim madrassas and Christian Sunday schools, will be investigated, along with faith-based youth groups and camps.

More than one in 10 survivors of child sexual abuse who contacted the inquiry’s truth project reported sexual abuse in a religious institution. Of those, almost a quarter said they had been abused in religious organisations included in the latest investigation.

Last year, several people contacted the Guardian with allegations of child sexual abuse and other mistreatment in Jehovah’s Witness communities in the UK.

They described a culture of cover-ups and lies, with senior members of the organisation, known as elders, discouraging victims from coming forward for fear of bringing “reproach on Jehovah” and being exiled from the congregation and their families.

The Charity Commission is also conducting an investigation into child protection issues in the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, the UK’s main Jehovah’s Witness organisation, which the commission regulates.

Nick French, a survivor of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, said the investigation was:

A positive step in looking into the systematic failings of a group who say they abhor child sexual abuse but in practice silence the victims.

John Viney, whose daughter was abused by a Jehovah’s Witness, said:

We have waited a long time for this.

Many former Jehovah’s Witnesses had been campaigning for an investigation for years, he added.

One of the largest Buddhist organisations in the west, Shambhala International, which has more than 200 meditation centres across the world, including in the UK, last year pledged to take action to tackle sexual abuse by its teachers.

There have also been allegations of abuse in other faith organisations and movements, some of which have led to criminal prosecutions.

The IICSA was set up in 2015 to investigate institutions that failed to protect children from sexual abuse. It has held several hearings into abuse in the Church of England and Catholic church.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, and Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and most senior Catholic cleric in England and Wales, have both given evidence in person, apologising for abuse and its cover-up.

The inquiry will hold a preliminary hearing into religious organisations in July, with public hearings planned for next year.

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  • Broga

    Religious outfits with all their power to dominate, and indeed terrify, believers and with their convenient churches, monasteries and retreats have provided a secure means of indulging their often perverted sexual drives. The security has been ensured by the readiness of governments to provide protection, favourable
    tax status, faith schools being supported by tax money, bishops in the House of Lords etc. This could provide a shock and a change leading to a much needed reassessment of just what these religions are getting away with.

    Get ready for the defence to begin.

  • kaydenpat

    Good. Investigate them all and hopefully protect millions of children from predators cloaked in religiosity.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    Good as a former Jw I can say this is very much needed and I should imagine it is the same among many other religious groups. Such as the Mormons. The jw will either claim its satan persecuting them or its all lies made up on the internet. Or some may even claim its not happening or its just a few evil apostate jw who are making things up.

  • Broga

    In the USA an excuse which has been accepted was that the pastor had sex with his secretaries – although “happily” married – under the influence of Satan. Now that he had experience of Satan’s wiles he was a better pastor and able more effectively to guide others.

    Congratulations on becoming free of the religious shackles. I hope that has been an invigorating and exciting experience.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    I have been free a number of years but when I woke up it was very hard to leave without leaving my daughter in there clutches so I stayed for a few years to protect her and try to keep my marriage together. I felt like a character in a john Le Carre novel at times.

  • Bezukhov