The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IISCA), set to publish their final report next year, has found astounding failures in the way that major religious groups have handled child sex abuse allegations.
This follows previous investigations into the Church of England and the Catholic Church, which we have previously discussed on our blog.
The report examined evidence from 38 Religious groups, including Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and Islam.
This evidence showed that leaders often discourage the reporting of abuse to protect the reputations of themselves, their community or others in positions of authority.
Victim blaming is another reason for under-reporting, which projects fault onto the child and can have consequences for their ability to marry, the honour of their family and community reputation.
For instance, the report found that in one case a young girl was raped at a ‘house mosque’ between the ages of 8 and 11. When she disclosed the abuse she was called a ‘slag’ by others in the community.
Another example highlighted the story of a 12-year-old girl who was sexually abused by a church volunteer. When she found the courage to disclose the abuse, the church minister said that the abuser was ‘valued’ and that he was ‘not innocent until proven guilty.’
Professor Alexis Jay, chairwoman of the inquiry, has spoken out about the hypocrisy of such practices. She states that religious organisations should protect the innocent and vulnerable, yet the inquiry reveals that their practices are in direct conflict with this mission.
Many religious groups also put children at risk by refusing to openly discuss matters of sexuality, allowing religious leaders to abuse their power, misusing the concept of forgiveness and allowing men to dominate leadership.
The effects of this are exacerbated by patchy or non-existent safeguarding policies and support for survivors of abuse.
For instance, the inquiry found that a biblical rule within the Jehovah’s Witness community requires two witnesses of the alleged abuse to come forward before it can be considered by elders. This fails to reflect the fact that most abuse is perpetrated in the absence of witnesses. It is easy to see how child abuse is allowed to thrive with such rules in operation.
The report is the 16th in 3 ½ years and with each one, the IISCA further reveals the extent of the horrific child abuse that has been allowed to continue within British Society for years.
At Farleys, we have acted for many individuals who have been abused as children at the hands of religious groups and leaders. As highlighted by the IISCA, organisations often cover up abuse and ignore cries for help, which can worsen suffering for survivors.
Thankfully, many avenues of support are available for survivors of child abuse. Our accredited team of solicitors have successfully pursued significant damages for survivors, helping them to explore ways to deal with their childhood experiences.
If you or someone you know has suffered abuse within a religious organisation, Farleys Solicitors are here to help. We have a specialist team who deal with these types of matter and pride themselves on treating clients with sensitivity and compassion. To make an initial enquiry, please contact our abuse line on 0330 134 6430, by email or via the chat function below.
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