Five Religious Association Report Sex Offenses
Five religious associations out of the 14 that have responded to an enquiry made by a committee appointed by the Ministry of the Interior to investigate sex offenses within religious associations in Iceland say such offenses have occurred in their community.
These are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bodunarkirkjan, Krossinn, Bahá’i and Philadelphia. Seven sex offenses have been reported within Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1960, three of which occurred in 1990, Fréttabladid reports.
One of these cases was reported to the police but later dismissed. This is a considerably higher number than within the other religious associations, apart from Krossinn where seven women sued its former chairman for sexual harassment. That case was also dismissed.
Bjarni Jónsson, director of the Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Iceland said that if a member feels he or she has been violated by someone, he or she is encouraged to speak with that person. If that doesn’t work, another person should be brought to the meeting.
Jónsson said it is unlikely that a professional council will be established within such a small congregation with approximately 700 registered and 300 active members to handle sex offenses specifically.
However, most of the 14 religious associations are positive towards establishing a professional council or work methods to deal with sex offences within their congregations.