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Article from 1/24/2020: Jehovah’s Witness abuse victims unhappy at lack of care, report shows https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/01/jehovahs-witness-abuse-victims-unhappy-at-lack-of-care-report-shows/ .....The Dutch branch went to court to try to stop the publication of the report but judges on Thursday ruled that it could be published in the public interest..... Below is final part of that report. SUMMARY Results in context International studies conducted in Australia, Belgium and the United Kingdom show that the issue of sexual abuse in the Jehovah's Witness community is not restricted to the Netherlands. Furthermore, studies conducted within the Dutch Roman Catholic Church and the youth care sector in the Netherlands show that the issue of sexual abuse is not exclusive to the Jehovah's Witness community. Our study and the international studies show that the Jehovah's Witness community can be characterized as a closed community. Each of these studies shows that fixed structures and protocols have been established based on the Bible. Furthermore, all of the international studies showed that the Jehovah's Witness community does not adequately handle reports and complaints of sexual abuse against minors and that victims find themselves in a vulnerable position. Our study and the studies conducted in Australia, Belgium and the United Kingdom also suggested that the closed nature of the community hinders transparent handling of reports of sexual abuse. At first glance, this closed nature also seems to have a negative influence on the willingness to file a police report. International studies into the Jehovah's Witness community have found that there are very few opportunities to make such complaints outside the community and that doing so involves a very high risk of shunning and exclusion. The victim-support mechanisms within the community appear to be insufficient, no support is provided to enable external reporting of sexual abuse and according to many respondents, external reports are discouraged. The obligation to notify the authorities of suspected or actual sexual abuse is a vital measure that has been taken by or recommended to the Jehovah's Witness community in Australia and Belgium. The Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands has also been advised to introduce a notification obligation. Since the studies in Australia and the United Kingdom were conducted, the Jehovah's Witnesses have set up a protocol to determine how elders must handle allegations of child abuse. The effects of the measures taken by the Jehovah's Witness community in Australia, the United Kingdom and Belgium in order to improve child safety are not yet known. When we look at the three Dutch studies examining communities (closed or otherwise) that were examined during this study (the Roman Catholic Church, the youth care sector and the Netherlands Ministry of Defense), we note that being in a closed community hinders people from reporting a variety of offences. At the time, the minors who reported sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church community seemed to be in an extremely vulnerable position (due in part to the lack of personal counselling), which - among other factors - discouraged them from notifying external parties. Studies within the youth care sector and the Netherlands Ministry of Defense indicate that non-religious organisations also have structural inadequacies concerning the protection of members against undesired conduct and external reporting of such conduct. Furthermore, it can be carefully concluded from the studies within the Roman Catholic Church and youth care sector that the weak levels of procedural transparency concerning issues, such as to whom the incidents should be reported and how the reporting process is conducted, appear to have negatively impacted the willingness to report offences. Utrecht University Conclusions ▪ A total of 751 participants shared their experiences of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness community via our contact point. These experiences included 292 accounts from people with personal experience of abuse and 459 accounts from people who know somebody who suffered abuse. ▪ 80% of the participants in the study reported their experiences of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness community. ▪ 30% of the respondents notified the police and 27% of the respondents filed a police report. ▪ Three-quarters of the victims awarded a score of 5 or less for the handling of their report by the Jehovah's Witness community (average score: 3.3). ▪ 63% of the victims awarded a score of 6 or more for the handling of their report by the police (average score: 6.4). ▪ Compared to internal channels (80% report the offence within the community), a relatively small proportion of the participants in the study engage external channels (30% notify the police and 27% file an official police report). There are reasons to assume that the filing of a police report is hindered by the closed nature of the community and the risks involved in informing external parties. However, our study does not provide causal evidence for this factor and follow-up studies would be required for such evidence. ▪ According to our respondents, the closed culture within the Jehovah's Witness community can also be linked to the problems concerning the handling of reports of sexual abuse. The board has now put protocols and instructions in place to establish procedures for responding to reports of sexual abuse, although these mainly seem to focus on protecting the community - and, by extension, the culprit - rather than the victim. As a result, victims receive limited support and insufficient recognition, which can result in secondary victimization. ▪ While the community has taken steps over the past 10 years to improve how reports of sexual abuse are handled, the Jehovah's Witnesses' formalistic system still provides no guarantee of an adequate response to sexual abuse. Recommendations Based on the findings and conclusions in the study, we have formulated recommendations for the Jehovah's Witness community and for the Dutch government. ▪ We appeal to the community of Jehovah's Witnesses to ensure better support for and recognition of victims and alleged victims via measures such as the following: o Providing more explicit information regarding the options for reporting the abuse externally or filing a police report and/or seeking external help as well as providing clear assistance with these external channels. o Setting up an internal reporting centre for victims of sexual abuse, with adequate knowledge of the subject and of the internal and external options for victims. Clear agreements must be established within this reporting centre concerning timely engagement of external parties for the purposes of reporting the offence and/or supporting the victim. o Compiling annual reports regarding the activities of the internal reporting centre in relation to its own website, fellow believers and the public. o Training and educating elders in how to handle in cases of sexual abuse, in order to better equip them to provide support to victims. o Investing in openness and transparency in relation to sexual abuse and how it is handled. o Initiating cultural change that establishes a clearer position for women. o Engaging in discussions within the community and with other parties - such as politicians, the police, the authorities and the Reclaimed Voices foundation - concerning how to prevent and handle sexual abuse. ▪ Furthermore, the results of this study could help to ensure relevant parties - such as the municipal health services and the police - are better informed of the influence of closed communities on victims of abuse. ▪ The Netherlands board of Jehovah's Witnesses actively cooperated with our study. The board also stated that it complies with the law of the land and the Reclaimed Voices foundation confirmed this policy principle. This situation provides the Dutch political system with the opportunity to take action and enter into talks with the community about patterns, church rules, other rules, customs, structures and their consequences for the willingness to report sexual abuse within the community of Jehovah's Witnesses. Within this context, a law is being considered that would make it mandatory for the Jehovah's Witnesses and other organisations to report instances or suspicions of sexual abuse to the police. Other countries have already introduced this type of law. Assessment of the usefulness and desirability of this instrument for the Jehovah's Witness community in the Netherlands will require further research. ▪ Finally, we recommend supplementing the independent scientific research presented during this report with additional future research. After all, the number of missing values/responses for a number of variables and the self-reports presented here imply that establishing truth is not the purpose of this report. Furthermore, no solid causal links concerning willingness to report sexual abuse can be derived from this report. Further research would be necessary to determine how applicable the findings concerning sexual abuse are to the Jehovah's Witness community in the Netherlands and in other countries, as well as within other organisations. However, the research presented in this study into sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness community in the Netherlands provides ample grounds for future research to establish a more comprehensive picture of the people reporting sexual abuse, the people not reporting sexual abuse, and the perpetrators of sexual abuse among Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands and in other countries. https://www.wodc.nl/binaries/3010_summary_tcm28-427065.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0WA8hhpBT-_2CXiIduYX4vySLdU3dAFDUlAaw0Aowf4f0fZji4J12HECo