"…While there are no statistics that relate specifically to the Jewish community, and it seems unlikely that we will ever really know the precise numbers within the closed haredi community, significant anecdotal evidence suggests a consistent level of abuse. In fact, a range of factors suggests an even higher incidence of sexual abuse within certain segments of the Jewish community.…This is highlighted by experts, some of whom believe that around 50% of Hassidic boys in Brooklyn are sexually abused.…"
Anti-abuse activist Manny Waks and the Chief Rabbi of Norway former Member of Knesset Michael Melchior are members of the steering committee of a new international initiative against child sexual abuse in the Jewish community worldwide
In response to the exposé published in Yediot Aharonot last month that showed that many state-employed chief rabbis of cities, towns and rural areas in Israel routinely tell child sex abuse victims not to report the abuse to police, anti-abuse Waks and Melchior write in the Jerusalem Post:
…In trying to dissuade the victims from going to the police, excuses in defense of the perpetrators often include “he has a wife and children so why make his entire family suffer?”, “the abuse happened many years ago,” “it was a moment of weakness,” “he’s a righteous, God-fearing person,” “you’ll be bringing shame on you, your family and our community,” “you’ll ruin your marriage prospects,” and so on.
That this misguided and morally reprehensible attitude still exists on the part of rabbis is of grave concern.
Not only does it lead to additional injustice being done to the victims but it also causes other children to be unnecessarily exposed to these abusers who often go on to re-offend. Clearly, we still have a lot of work to do.
Many rabbis are simply unaware of or choose to ignore the prevalence of child sexual abuse. It is widely accepted that in the broader society – including in countries such as Israel, the US and Australia – one in three girls and one in five boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Moreover, on average it takes 25 years for victims/survivors to disclose their abuse to someone, with the estimated total of only 10 percent of all abuse victims ever disclosing it to anyone. These statistics not only reveal the alarming extent of this phenomenon that often occurs in the place where a child should feel the greatest confidence – in his home or his community – but also demonstrates the long-term and profound impact of child sexual abuse.
While there are no statistics that relate specifically to the Jewish community, and it seems unlikely that we will ever really know the precise numbers within the closed haredi community, significant anecdotal evidence suggests a consistent level of abuse. In fact, a range of factors suggests an even higher incidence of sexual abuse within certain segments of the Jewish community.
Unique attributes within the haredi community offer greater opportunity for abuse and cover-ups – for example, having large families, use of male mikveh (ritual bath-house), limited or no sexual education, desire to protect the reputations of leaders/rabbis and institutions, isolated communities that often reject the use of mainstream law enforcement, the existence of extreme taboo/stigma etc. This is highlighted by experts, some of whom believe that around 50% of Hassidic boys in Brooklyn are sexually abused.…
Undoubtedly Judaism refers to incest with disgust, and the evidence is in one of the Torah readings placed in the significant hour in the middle of Yom Kippur. There is a major discrepancy between the way this issue is addressed in the Torah and by all the prominent rabbis, both the Rishonim and Acharonim, and the way it is addressed in practice. This gap is intolerable and must be closed.
The establishment of institutions such as Forum Takana is welcome, but unfortunately insufficient due to the profound nature of the problem. Protecting our children is a commandment of great importance, and in order to eradicate the evil from within it is incumbent upon the rabbis to be at the forefront of the struggle and not to sweep things under the carpet.…
Read it all here.