Child Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions - Seeker's Thoughts

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Child Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions


Child Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions

Sexual abuse in churches have been a topic of discussion. The incident did not leave any country including United States, Ireland and Australia.

There has been protest, and public inquiries. Sexual abuse in religious places was not restricted to nuns but child abuse also remained prevalent. 


High profile cases of sexual abuse of children included, Cardinal George Pell. He was convicted of abusing two choir boys in Melbourne in 1996.

Cardinal George Pell was the highest ranking catholic.  

In recent decade, there was a widespread discontentment among people who wanted church to reform.

Pope, himself admitted clerical abuse of nuns, which included sexual slavery, and child abuse. he unprecedented conference - called Protection of Minors in the Church - was attended by the heads of all national bishops' conferences from more than 130 countries.

They were handed a roadmap of suggestions on how to handle abuse, such as drawing up mandatory codes of conduct for priests, training people to spot abuse and informing police.

Those gathered at the Vatican also heard testimonies from victims - who mostly remained anonymous - telling stories of abuse and cover-up.

One woman from Africa said she had been forced to have three abortions after being abused for years as a teenager by a priest who refused to use contraception.
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Another victim from Asia said he had been molested more than 100 times.

In Pune, India, in 2018 36 children were rescued from Madarsa where maulana was accused of sexually assaulting children.

Devdasi system in Southern States Like Tamil Nadu is a form of Child Sexual abuse.





What is Child Sex Abuse?

Child Sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child can not consent to any form of sexual activity. 


Does child abuse need to be physical?

Not necessarily, child sexual abuse does not need to be physical. There are various forms of child sexual abuse---

1.      Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor

2.      Fondling

3.      Intercourse

4.      Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate

5.      Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction

6.      Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children

7.      Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal

8.      Sex trafficking

9.      Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare


Why don’t children complain against the sexual -abuse?

Abusers can manipulate victims to stay quiet about the sexual abuse using a number of different tactics.

Often an abuser will use their position of power over the victim to coerce or intimidate the child.

They might tell the child that the activity is normal or that they enjoyed it. An abuser may make threats if the child refuses to participate or plans to tell another adult. Child sexual abuse is not only a physical violation; it is a violation of trust and/or authority.

What are the signs of Child Sex abuse?

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice.

However, there are some scientific proven methods which help in identifying the child sex abuse-

Behavioural signs:


·       Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively

·       Develops phobias

·       Exhibits signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder

·       Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents

·       Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades

·       Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviours

·       Nightmares or bed-wetting

·       Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role

·       Returns to regressive behaviours, such as thumb sucking

·       Runs away from home or school

·       Self-harms

·       Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact



Physical signs:


·       Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area

·       Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes

·       Difficulty walking or sitting

·       Frequent urinary or yeast infections

·       Pain, itching, or burning in genital area





What did Pope do against sexual abuse in Catholic Church?

Pope issues ground-breaking law ordering all Catholic priests, nuns to report sex abuse and cover-ups to church. It’s the latest effort by Pope Francis to respond to the global eruption of the sex abuse and cover-up scandal that has devastated the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy and his own papacy

The Catholic Priests and nuns did not report earlier and covered up their superiors against the cases of sexual abuse.

New rules introduced by Pope are—

1.      The Church law provides whistle- blower protection for anyone making a report and require all dioceses around the world to have a system to receive the claims confidentiality.

2.      And it outlines procedures for conducting preliminary investigations when the accused is a bishop, cardinal or religious superior.

3.      And it provides a new legal framework for U.S. bishops to use as they prepare to adopt accountability measures next month to respond to the scandal there.

4.      The law makes the world’s 415,000 Catholic priests and 660,000 religious sisters mandated reporters. That means they are required to inform church authorities when they learn or have “well-founded motives to believe” that a cleric or sister has engaged in sexual abuse of a minor, sexual misconduct with an adult, possession of child pornography or that a superior has covered up any of those crimes.

5.      The law doesn’t require them to report to police. The Vatican has long argued that doing so could endanger the church in places where Catholics are a persecuted minority. But it does for the first time put into universal church law that they must obey civil reporting requirements where they live, and that their obligation to report to the church in no way interferes with that.

6.      If it is implemented fully, the Vatican could well see an avalanche of abuse and cover-up reports in the coming years. Since the law is procedural and not criminal in nature, it can be applied retroactively, meaning priests and nuns are now required to report even old cases of sexual wrongdoing and cover-up and enjoy whistle-blower protections for doing so.

7.      Assistance to victims

8.      In another legal first for the Vatican, the pope mandated that victims reporting abuse must be welcomed, listened to and supported by the hierarchy, as well as offered spiritual, medical and psychological assistance. It doesn’t mandate financial reparations, however.

9.      But the key point of the law is to decree that the church’s own priests and nuns are mandated reporters and require every diocese around the world create an accessible, confidential reporting system to receive claims of sexual abuse and cover-up.

10.  The other key element is outlining how preliminary investigations are carried out when the accused predator is a member of the hierarchy.
The new procedures call for any claim of sexual misconduct or cover-up against a bishop, religious superior or eastern rite patriarch be reported to the Holy See and the metropolitan bishop responsible for the geographic area involved.

Unless the metropolitan bishop finds the claim “manifestly unfounded,” he must immediately ask permission from the Vatican to open a preliminary investigation and must hear back from Rome within 30 days a remarkably fast turnaround for the lethargic Holy See.
The metropolitan then has an initial 90 days to conduct the investigation extensions are possible.

Victims and their advocates have long complained that bishops and religious superiors have escaped justice for having engaged in sexual misconduct themselves, or failed to protect their flocks from predator priests. Bishops and religious superiors are accountable only to the pope, and only a handful have been sanctioned or removed because particularly egregious misbehaviour became public.

However, this is not enough. There are other religious institutions which need to take a stand against the child sex abuse. These religious institutions have dominated the world on the ‘concept of morality’ which seems to fade away with time.

People need to understand that the sexual abuse can not be neglected, and they should know the signs of sexual abuse. Mostly, the cases of sexual abuse occur in the name of trust. The trust on religious heads have created various sex abusers like – Ram Raheem,  Asharam etc.

Some name never came under scanner, but when you look around and talk individually, there are more people who are abused and harassed by the someone they know.







For Madarsa Child Sex Abuse


For Devdasi System

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