The Guardian (UK), Monday, March 26, 2018
MPs are demanding government action after more than 100 people contacted the Guardian with allegations of child sexual abuse and other mistreatment in Jehovah’s Witness communities in the UK.
“I am extremely concerned, but not surprised, by the allegations of child abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness movement. Whenever there is a closed society with an inherent power imbalance, the potential for abuse is there,” said the Labour MP Sarah Champion.
She said she would be raising the issue in parliament and demanding that the government take actionto make sure all children were safe.
Alex Chalk, the Conservative MP for Cheltenham, said he planned to raise the issue in parliament, saying it was not just an historical issue but an ongoing child safety concern.
“My instinctive thoughts are that the sheer numbers and seriousness of the allegations coming forward is concerning ... if even half the allegations coming to light are true then it’s clear that an entrenched culture of cover-up and flawed in-house investigations continues to this day,” Chalk said.
Champion said she was concerned that victims had to report their abuse to elders, without independent scrutiny.
She also expressed concern that abuse claims can only be taken before a committee for investigation if there were two witnesses to it. “Abuse happens in the shadows, so to ask for a second witness is ludicrous and effectively prevents reporting,” Champion said.