By: Aswin Suierveld of Reclaimed Voices
I would like to give you an update of the current situation about child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness organization in the Netherlands and what our group, Reclaimed Voices Foundation – https://www.facebook.com/reclaimedvoices/ – is doing about it. (https://reclaimedvoices.org/)
In December 2017 the Ministry of Justice and Security spoke with men who are responsible for JWs in the Netherlands. This conversation was in response to articles in Trouw, a Dutch newspaper, as the Dutch government was alarmed about Watchtower’s policy on reporting child sexual abuse. The Minister of Legal Protection advised JWs to read and comply with the Deetman Report, which was given to the Catholic Church in the Netherlands in 2011.
Reclaimed Voices was also invited to talk with representatives of the ministry. We decided to write a document with background information about Watchtower, their policy on reporting child molestation, our opinion of how we thought Watchtower would react to the Deetman report, a summary of the Australian Royal Commission’s report, and the goals for Reclaimed Voices. We called our report, which was almost 30 pages, “Sexual Abuse at Jehovah’s Witnesses – background and recommendations.”
On January 26, 2018, we had a meeting with staff from the Ministry of Justice and Security and we gave them our report, which was printed and bound.
On January 18, we met with a journalist from RTL Nieuws. She decided to share the problem of child molestation among JWs on a special television program. She also put pressure on the ministry through the media, hoping they would initiate an investigation, and introduced us to Nico Meijering, a well-known Dutch lawyer.
On January 26, after we had been at the ministry, we had our first meeting with Meijering. Later that evening the first major news story about Watchtowe’s child molestation problems was aired on Dutch TV.
Meijering received our report, supplementing it with Watchtower documents – letters to elders, elders book, guidelines for Branch Offices, Branch Office Child Protection Guidelines, etc.
On February 8, a second major news story was aired by RTL, where it was announced that a number of victims were planning to report their personal stories. It was also reported that JWs keep documents concerning perpetrators of sexual abuse, which are not reported to the police.
Because we were afraid that Watchtower would destroy their files, our lawyer gave a firm warning: “It is a serious crime to destroy evidence that could lead to an investigation and prosecution in order to resolve such crimes as child abuse. So don’t let it get that far and be so stupid to go and destroy evidence, because then there will be an even bigger problem.”
Later that same evening, the Reclaimed Voices chairman, Raymond Hintjes, and Nico Meijering attended ‘Late Night’, a television talk show in the Netherlands.
On February 14, after a few days of very challenging work on our part, thirteen victims of sexual abuse, through our lawyer, made a request to Watchtower-Netherlands to release the files about their abuse. This request was shared in the media.
On February 15, the problem of child sexual abuse within the JW community was discussed by the committee of the Ministry of Justice and Security. Raymond and I were present and sat at the public stand. The majority of politicians were aware and appeared concerned about the problem. During the meeting, a 11-page letter from our lawyer was discussed, in which he lodged a request for release of the files for the thirteen abused JWs. His letter had been sent to the Public Prosecution Service.
One of the issues that both the lawyer and the ministry are concerned about is the fact that JWs have their own legal system, which they place above the law of the country and based, among other things, on Acts 5:29.
The Minister promised to respond in writing to Meijering’s letter. We have the impression that he takes this problem very seriously. We now hope that an independent investigation will be started.
I sometimes find myself in tears now that people from outside the ex-jw community finally understand what is going on, which is encouraging for victims
We’re not there yet. In the meantime, we are preparing a collective prosecution in which six or seven survivors will participate. This is in full development.
We currently know of more than 250 victims of sexual abuse by JWs in the Netherlands. Most of the victims have left the JW organization because of this. I have read and heard many stories, not only about sexual abuse, but also about physical and emotional abuse. Something is definitely wrong in the Watchtower organization in the Netherlands.
But it is encouraging to know that we are not alone. We are joined by thousands of people worldwide with the same goals as Reclaimed Voices: A safer environment for children, both in a religious setting and in society as a whole.
Best wishes to you all and kind regards,
Aswin Suierveld of Reclaimed Voices (https://reclaimedvoices.org/missie-en-vissie/)
This is excellent news. It is long overdue that the public should learn about what is being covered up by the Watchtower. Events have already proved that they are devious and will destroy evidence, lie in court and do anything to protect their reputation. Please google Australian Royal Commission Sched 29 and JWFacts.org for more info. Support for the victims is available at Silentlambs and various Facebook groups.
Unfortunately what I’m finding is that people are getting too emotional and not being practical in their viewpoint. On FB pages people are just accusing the JW Org / WT of anything and everything. Whilst I know what sexual assault, physical assault and emotional assault can do to people, I think it does more harm than good to the cause by just throwing around hatred… I like what you are doing as you seem so practical and organised… I would still like to see the complete bringing together of all information earthwide regarding the Child Abuse / Pedophile problem in the JW Org and WT Soc’. For instance do you know the situation regarding the $4,000 per day fines in the USA for not handing over documents. … The info’ you are giving us is great, Thank you. however i would really like to tie it all together earthwide.
In 2002 there were 23,720 registered child abusers on JW files at their headquarters. Someone recently corrected this figure to an un yet proven 31,744 which seems likely given 15 intervening years. $4000 per day is being paid in fines in California because JW.Org will not hand over their records to the state, this sum currently totals over $2 million dollars. There is a $66 million Class Action going before Canadian Courts very soon. The JW.Org are trying to shut down any you tubers they can to prevent this information getting out. The Dutch have 220 cases of child abuse in 30,000 JWs reported in just a few months and so far 6 are going to court. If you go to http://jwfacts.com/ they should have all the latest info there. The Facebook pages are not always used to their best advantage as some view as their private playground to vent, but many ex JWs devote many hours a day trying to get this info out to current JW’s who, we know from experience, do not know what is going on in their organisation. Those who do are complicit in the coverup.
That is happening….but baby steps are necessary.
Watchtower’s child molestation policy is scrutinized in this exceptional late night show in the Netherlands. A must-watch at https://vimeo.com/256187135
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvyPugZk59o This is the Head of the Governing Body of JWs appearing in the Australian court case discussing child abuse within JWs.
Thankyou for this info…sad that this organization…that claimed God’s guidance and direction was leading them…have flubbed up everything…not protecting the innocent victims…but trying to shut up all and every one who through various means are crying out for justice. May justice prevail…may the pedophiles and Jw.org leaders, who are covering over for them to protect the Jw. orgs reputation at all expense….be held accountable…Thankyou to all who are acting for justice of innocent victims of such an abusive cult.
Thank you, Aswin Suierveld and others who have worked bravely to expose WT of these most heinous crimes.