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This seems to be some interesting news from RTL News, if it's true Jehovah's Witnesses call on members to cooperate in investigations of abuse The board of Jehovah's Witnesses Netherlands has called on its members to participate in research at Utrecht University into sexual abuse within the organization. The appeal is remarkable because the denomination normally avoids contact with non-ecclesiastical authorities. The call is included in an internal letter in the hands of RTL News. Personal choice In the letter, which was sent to all departments last week, the board asks members who are victims of child abuse to fill in a questionnaire on the Utrecht University site. He is commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Security to investigate abuse within Jehovah's Witnesses. "Of course participation in this study is a personal choice," the board writes in the letter. "Nevertheless, we hope that this will give Utrecht University accurate and balanced information about how our organization responds to abuse." According to sources within the church, the letter was read during meetings in the church buildings. Jehovah's Witnesses was unable to respond to this message on Monday, a RTL News spokesperson said. Under attention Jehovah's Witnesses have recently been discredited because they only prosecute perpetrators of child abuse internally and do not report them to the police and the judicial authorities. The organization also refuses to hand over documents on internal court cases to the judiciary. Therefore, last November the police raided the headquartersof Jehovah's Witnesses. Kees van den Bos, research leader at Utrecht University is 'naturally' happy with the appeal from the board of Jehovah's Witnesses. "We have been in touch by email over the past few weeks and have asked them to bring our research to the attention of their members. It's nice to hear that they have done so now." The researchers were not involved in the preparation of the letter. The investigators have now received 'a few hundred serious reports' about abuse within Jehovah's Witnesses. Van den Bos could not say whether the last call led to new reports. The Reclaimed Voices foundation, which represents victims of abuse within Jehovah's witnesses, is also "positive" that the Jehovah's Witnesses point their members to this investigation. "We hope that active Jehovah's Witnesses who are victims of sexual abuse or who are aware of a situation will participate in the investigation," says President Raymond Hintjes. The research at Utrecht University came about following a motion from the House of Representatives. The goal is to see how Jehovah's Witnesses deals with reports of child abuse. Anyone who has experience with abuse within that church can report to the investigators until 1 June . The intention is that the final report can be published in the autumn.
Reclaimed Voices, a foundation set up in the Netherlands to denounce sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witnesses, received 46 reports of abuse in just a week's time. The number of reports is shocking, Frank Huiting, one of the founders and himself a victim of sexual abuse in a closed Jehovah's Witnesses community as a child, said to broadcaster NOS. The foundation was launched just over a week ago, based on Huiting's own experiences. He was abused from the time he was seven year's old. When Huiting told his parents, they decided not to report it to the police. An elder in the community advised against it. "Then there will be headlines in the newspaper and we don't want that." According to the Reclaimed Voices initiators, victims within the closed Jehovah's Witnesses community are not heard and perpetrators are left to continue unchecked. Over the past week, foundation employees heard stories from a number of people who were abused by Jehovah's Witnesses. "The fact that so many reports have come in actually says enough. There are at least hundreds of cases in the Netherlands that should actually come out", Huiting said, according to NOS. He added that so many victims are too afraid to come forward. The main purpose of Reclaimed Voices is to be a listening ear. The employees urge victims to speak out, and hope that they also report the abuse. "People walked around with this secret for years. And the fact that they are coming out, can be a relief for them. That was also my experience. We also want to advise them to seek professional help. Also outside the religious community, for example with a social worker, psychologist or general practitioner", Huiting said. The foundation aims to collect as man reports of sexual abuse as possible and present them to the board of Jehovah's Witnesses Netherlands and the Dutch government. "We want to get the government to investigate these abuses. And not to start a fight, but really to focus on the victim." Earlier this year Dutch newspaper Trouw spoke to a number of people who were sexually abused as children in the Jehovah's Witnesses community. One victim described the religious society as a "paradise for pedophiles".