Jehovah’s Witnesses Want Conversation Reports of Abuse Victims

Jehovah’s Witnesses do their utmost to obtain written testimonials from members and ex-members about domestic abuse, writes Faithful. These are conversations that the researchers at Utrecht University had with victims and other stakeholders about the way in which the religious organization itself handled incidents of abuse.

Participants in the study fear that Jehovah’s Witnesses will recognize them and visit them if the organization can see the – anonymised – interview reports, they tell the newspaper.

From the research report, published last January, found that the vast majority of cases were handled within the community and that the victims felt unheard of, ignored and stigmatized in that process. They gave the approach a ‘report mark’ 3.3 or lower. Almost half of the reported cases of abuse involved incest.

Wob

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have already tried to request as much material from the investigation as possible by invoking the Government Information Act (Wob) at various ministries. Utrecht University was also approached for this, but it partially rejected the request.

The religious community then started an objection procedure last week. When asked, a spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Trouw that these are “anonymized documents with full respect for everyone’s privacy and in accordance with the GDPR (European privacy legislation, ed.).”

Witch hunt

The board of Utrecht University must make a decision in the objection procedure within three weeks, but according to the principal investigator, the request will certainly be rejected. He points out in the newspaper that in the small community of Jehovah’s Witnesses a person can already be recognized by the way he or she phrases: “We must avoid the possibility of a witch hunt,” he says. After that, the organization can still go to court.

In January last year, the Jehovah’s Witnesses tried unsuccessfully to have the publication of the study banned through the courts. They called the report discriminatory because other faith communities remain out of harm’s way. They also questioned the scientific basis.

In the video below, NOS on 3 looked into the life of Rick. He was a member of the Jehovah community all his life, but decided to sever the ties:

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