By Lydia Segebrecht December 16, 2016
An open letter to Serena Williams about Jehovah’s Witnesses’ treatment of women.
I want to start by applauding everything you said in your open letter that was reproduced on The Guardian website last week. As a woman, I too have experienced firsthand the inequity and unfair treatment that results from gender inequality in our society. Whilst it is true that great strides have been made in this area in recent decades, it is also true that there is still much work to do. I support and commend every sentence of your letter.
It is thus in this spirit of co-operation and progression toward gender equality that I must respectfully draw to your attention the following serious matter. Namely that you have on a number of occasions associated yourself with and promoted the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization. This organization teaches and enforces gender and social doctrines upon its members that are the exact opposite of the stance you advocated in your letter.
I speak as someone who was raised in this religion and who is intimately familiar with its rules and teachings, and with the sanctions imposed upon members should they disobey those teachings. In your letter you speak of the need to remove hurdles to a young girl’s development. Thus, I must respectfully remind you that a young girl growing up today in the religious faith we both shared will encounter the following hurdles and blockades.
All children raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses are strongly discouraged from attending higher education. Should their parents ignore this command, they may be sanctioned. If their father is an elder (a church leader) he may be removed from his position.