ANPEa conference of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Jaarbeurs in 2019
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:15
Jehovah’s Witnesses are suing the Dutch State for discrimination. A spokesperson confirmed this after reporting in Trouw. The Witnesses believe it is unfair that only their dealings with sexual abuse have been investigated, while other religious groups are not taken into account.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to research conducted by Utrecht University in 2020. It showed that reports of abuse were not handled properly. Those who reported the sexual abuse only to parents or elders within the community gave an average grade of 3.3 to the handling of the incident.
The participants in the study blame the unsatisfactory approach on the closed culture of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The elders are focused on keeping the community together and quickly strive for reconciliation between perpetrator and victim. In addition, the aftercare for the abuse victim remains underexposed. Nearly half of the abuse cases involved incest.
The legal process of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not well received by the Reclaimed Voices foundation. This foundation stands up for victims of sexual abuse within closed communities.
“This means that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not want to take the results of the research seriously, says Raymond Hintjes, chairman of the foundation, in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. “They are much more concerned with protecting their own reputation instead of the stories of victims who indicate that they have been duped.”
According to Hintjes, it is not surprising that the research by Utrecht University only focused on this religious group. “There was also reason for this. There had been a number of media reports about sexual abuse within the circles of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Subsequently, there were discussions with the State, both by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and representatives of our foundation.”
Reclaimed Voices has indicated that the way the group deals with sexual abuse could be detrimental to victims, says Hintjes. “We then also said that people should not rely solely on our story, but that independent research should be conducted. And since it was about Jehovah’s Witnesses, it seems obvious to me that you should investigate what was said about Jehovah’s Witnesses. is becoming.”
Hintjes calls the timing of the lawsuit remarkable. “About four years after the publication of the study, a lawsuit was filed with that argument, while the same argument also applied when the study was conducted. They ultimately participated in the study, but when it was to be published and the results did not like the research, they opposed publication. They then lost the summary proceedings initiated.”
According to Hintjes, the religious community chooses to dismiss stories from victims of abuse as stories from disgruntled ex-members who are out to discredit Jehovah’s Witnesses. “They could use the results to improve abuse policy, but instead they are fighting a legal battle. In doing so, they ignore the stories and the victims of abuse do not receive recognition.”
The judge will make his ruling on Wednesday.