The Dutch branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses has taken the state to court for discrimination, arguing it is unfair that the government only scrutinised the way they had dealt with sexual abuse claims, not other religious groups, Trouw reported on Monday.
The research, completed in 2020 on behalf of the justice ministry by a team from Utrecht University, concluded that the handling of abuse cases within Jehovah’s Witnesses (which has some 30,000 members in the Netherlands) left much to be desired.
The then legal protection minister Sander Dekker commissioned the research with the full backing of parliament because the organisation itself refused to sanction an inquiry into how it had dealt with abuse cases. It was the first investigation of its kind ever undertaken into a religious community in the Netherlands.
From the outset, the organisation criticised the survey, saying it was scientifically and factually incorrect, and defamatory. Just before publication, in January 2020, they instituted summary proceedings to prevent the report from being made public but that call was rejected.
The main hearing in the discrimination case has already taken place and the verdict will be published on December 13, Trouw said.
The Utrecht researchers received 751 reports of abuse, ranging from incest to rape, of which 292 were made by the victims themselves.
Just 25% of victims said they were satisfied with the way their complaints against the community had been handled and only 27% of cases were ever passed on to the police or other officials. Most of the reports related to abuse in the past, with just 32 covering the past 10 years.
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