Victims of child sexual abuse felt ignored by religious institutions, says new report

Child protection in synagogues will be included in new inquiry into sexual abuse within religious institutions


Child sexual abuse victims within religious groups felt ignored because it was deemed more important to protect the reputation of religious institutions, according to a new report.

Protecting the reputation of institutions and individuals “at all costs meant victims and survivors said they were often disbelieved, discredited and not supported after disclosing their experiences of sexual abuse both as children and as adults,” it said.

The report, published on Thursday, was produced by the Truth Project, which is part of the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

It is based on the experience of 183 people who gave evidence to the project of abuse suffered in a religious setting or from a figure of religious authority.

While most of the survivors were Anglican or Catholic, some came from other religious denominations including Judaism, the report said.

A more-in depth look at 12 examples included one person from “Orthodox Judaism”.

Shame or embarrassment often prevented victims of abuse reporting it.

But the authority and reverence enjoyed by religious figures meant their conduct was not questioned and made it easy for them to “act with relative impunity”, the report said.

Many of the victims said they had been aware of others being abused by the same person or in the same institution.

Most of the testimonies related to abuse that began in the 1970s. Most victims were men and in over 40 per cent of cases, abuse had between the ages of eight to 11.

Earlier this month the IICSA launched an inquiry into child protection in religious institutions which will include synagogues. A preliminary hearing is due to take place in July with public hearings scheduled for next year.

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