Sex abuse claims against The Jehovah’s Witnesses UK are once again in the media spotlight.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is already specifically investigating institutional failures in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, is now considering a separate investigation into Jehovah's Witness sex abuse claims.
IICSA is tasked with identifying the extent to which national institutions have failed to safeguard children from sexual abuse. The Inquiry is willing to consider a Jehovah’s Witnesses-specific investigation after receiving a ‘considerable number’ of reports of sex abuse concerning the organisation, including allegations that sex abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses is systematic.
Of particular concern is the suggestion that the Jehovah’s Witnesses UK organisation has attempted to limit the impact of sex abuse claims within the faith by telling victims not to report incidents to the police and leading them to think that they will not be believed.
Victims may also be discouraged from making allegations because Jehovah’s Witnesses who are disfellowshipped can end up becoming isolated from their family and close friends.
MPs are reported to have written to IICSA about Jehovah’s Witnesses sex abuse claims and allegations. It seems likely that questions will be asked in Parliament.
Elizabeth Duncan, one of our specialist abuse lawyers, commented:
"I am involved in a number of cases involving sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness organisation and am struck by the high level of control that the organisation exerts over every element of its members' lives. This creates an environment where the abuse of children can flourish. From early childhood the fear of hell is instilled in the members and this can then be used as a means of control. Members are isolated from the wider community and the threat of being disfellowshipped and therefore shunned by their families and friends is very real. This makes it even more difficult for those who have suffered abuse to speak out about what they have been through. Even when people are able to disclose what has happened to them the organisation has failed to help victims seek treatment or justice."
Anyone who is concerned about Jehova's Witness sex abuse can call our Free Legal Helpline on 0808 139 1597 for a confidential chat. Alternatively you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org