The Catholic church must acknowledge and compensate the thousands of girls who were sexually and physically abused by priests, monks and nuns, according to a new report focusing on female abuse victims.
The report, the second produced by the specialist committee led by Wim Deetman, looked at 150 cases in which girls were physically and sexually abused. The research focused on the period 1945 to 2010.
Three of the cases are so serious they are to be referred to the public prosecution department, even though they technically happened too long ago.
The report shows that girls were more likely to be abused in their homes whereas boys were usually abused at boarding schools. But girls were more likely to to be subjected to physical violence and mental abuse by nuns and other carers when they were living in institutions.
Last week, the Volkskrant reported that five of the seven church abuse victims to get the maximum compensation payment of €100,000 are women.
It is not clear how many girls were abused by clerics and nuns, but it could run up to 10,000, the Deetman report said.
Although church archives gave little indication of physical abuse, a picture did arise of a ‘climate based on formality and a lack of affection, of chilly emotions and toughness, repression and humilation’, Nos quoted the report as saying.
Deetman, a former Christian Democratic party chairman, has now urged the church to appoint mediators to help the victims of abuse come to terms with what happened to them, in combination with financial compensation.
The Catholic church on Monday offered its excuses to women who were abused by members of religious orders in their youth. The authorities said bishops would do their utmost to ensure the ‘recovery of trust, healing and reconciliation’.
However, Maud Kips, of the female church abuse survivors organisation VPKK, told Trouw on Monday she felt the new report had been compiled too quickly. ‘Abuse within the church is considered a male thing. Women have felt ignored for a long time,’ she told the paper.
In the first report published in December, Deetman said at least 800 Roman Catholic priests and monks were involved in abusing children in their care between 1945 and 1985.
In addition, church officials, bishops and lay people were aware of what was going on but failed to take action to protect children, the commission said.
The commission was set up by the Catholic church in March 2010 after the sexual abuse scandal broke in the Netherlands and hundreds of victims came forward. Over 2,000 people have since registered their abuse with the authorities.
Parliament had asked Deetman’s committee to compile a second report focusing on girls.
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