Jehovah's witnesses a "paradise for pedophiles": report

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wildfeuer)Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wildfeuer)

Children of Jehovah's Witnesses are easy targets for pedophiles, newspaper Trouw reports after speaking to victims, members and ex-members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. One victim called the Christian society a "paradise for pedophiles".

The victims Trouw spoke to were abused in the 80s and 90s. But according to the victims and others involved, abuse is still happening. The Netherlands counts about 30 thousand Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands follow the international guidelines of the organization. Their own legal system is above that of international authorities. In the organization, male elders are the judges. According to Trouw, for a conviction in the society, at least two witnesses are needed. This creates a problem as in many child sexual abuse cases, the only witnesses are the victim and the perpetrator. And perpetrators don't tend to testify against themselves.

Perpetrators are also not forced to leave the community, unless he or she shows no regret. Other members are not told about the abuse, because talking about such a case without a conviction is seen as slander. 

Turning to the police almost never happens, despite the the guidelines for elders stating that a victim can never be kept from going to the police, according to the newspaper. That guideline is followed by a reference to the bible vers Galatians 6:5, which states: "For every man has to bear his own burden". In practice, victims and those involved are advised and sometimes forbidden to go to the police, several victims and ex-members said to the newspaper. 

The organization did not want to discuss specific abuse cases. In general the Jehovah's Witnesses want to make sexuality a discussable topic "witout the veil of mystery" and want to make their children resilient, according to the newspaper. A spokesperson also said that the organization continually reviews its own procedures.