Children subjected to sexual abuse at SOS Kinderdorpen Suriname for years
At least 19 children and young adults were abused in several ways in an SOS Kinderdorpen in Suriname fore more than 30 years. In a report, the research firm Verinorm speaks of sexual, emotional, physical, and financial abuse. This includes rape, neglect, beating, and whipping.
The study was commissioned by SOS Kinderdorpen following reports of violence and sexual abuse in Children's Villages in 2021. For the study, Verinorm analyzed documents and conducted 35 interviews, including with victims and former staff. It emerged that the abuse took place from the founding of the Children's Village in 1972 until its closure in 2006.
Among others, five managers, almost half of the responsible managers, were allegedly guilty of abuse. According to the report, this "creates the impression that the abuse by managers was structural in nature”. One of the managers was sentenced by the court to 3,5 years in prison for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.
At the SOS Children's Village, investigators said, there was "too little supervision, monitoring and enforcement," and indications of abuse were "not taken seriously enough" by the humanitarian organization.
SOS Kinderdorpen "deeply regrets" the incidents in Suriname. "We find it appalling that we failed to protect all children and young people in our programs in the former SOS Children's Village Suriname at the time. This goes against everything we are committed to as an organization. Of course, we take all reports very seriously and treat them with respect and confidentiality."
The victims' take on this is that they make a direct connection between their later problems in life and the abuse in the Children's Village. According to investigators, however, that connection cannot be established with certainty.
According to a spokesperson for SOS Kinderdorpen, victims are supported in two ways. They receive money every month for basic needs. Personal plans are also made for the victims, which include psychosocial support and help in applying for a job or starting their own business.
SOS Kinderdorpen primarily helps children who cannot be cared for by their parents due to poverty or domestic violence. The organization operates at 138 locations worldwide.
Reporting by ANP