The court in Utrecht ruled on Thursday that a report (pdf) on sexual abuse and willingness to report to Jehovah's witnesses may be published. According to researchers from Utrecht University (UU), it should be easier for Jehovah's to report sexual abuse. These are the most important points in the report.
The research in brief
- Electronic reporting point received 751 reports of sexual abuse
- Three quarters of respondents "severely dissatisfied" with community treatment
- Administration of Jehovah's Witnesses calls results "scientifically and factually incorrect"
What is the most important recommendation from the report?
The community of Jehovah's Witnesses must set up a hotline where victims of sexual abuse can tell their story. The report shows that currently four in five victims report the sexual abuse internally, but three quarters of the victims label the current treatment as "severely insufficient", with an average score of 3.3.
What can the government do to monitor the situation?
According to researchers, Dutch politicians can "consider" to introduce a law that obliges communities, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, to report sexual abuse to the police. Three out of ten respondents have now made use of this option, while 27 percent actually reported it.
Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker writes in a letter to the House that he will soon be sitting around the table with the board of Jehovah's Witnesses. Dekker says to be "touched" because "victims of sexual abuse within the community do not feel heard, ignored, stigmatized and isolated."
He also criticizes the institution of the board members, who "have not taken advantage of recommendations, but have instead devoted time and resources to prevent publication of the report". At a previous meeting, board members would have "replied" to recommendations from the report.
See also: Abuse in jehova community: "I was not allowed to talk to anyone about it"
Why are Jehovahas so dissatisfied with treatment within their own community?
After reporting sexual abuse within the community, a number of protocols and guidelines come into effect, which are strongly focused on keeping the community together and not enough on helping the victims, researchers write based on respondents. Although steps have been taken to improve the handling of sexual abuse, it currently offers too little guidance.
From now on, the community should show victims opportunities to report externally or report and support these routes, is the recommendation. More women must also be given a "clear position" in the treatment process, while there must be training on how the community can support victims.
In what way should the closed community share information?
The recommended hotline must report on the activities online every year. Both fellow believers and other interested parties should be able to view the information.