Dutch Catholic child abuse inquiry to focus on girl victims

Utrecht, The Netherlands (ENInews) Women who as children were victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in the Netherlands are called to submit their testimony as a follow-up to a major inquiry, the official Roman Catholic broadcaster RKK announced May 22.

“The independent scientific research will focus on the sexual abuse of, and psychological violence against underage women in the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands between 1945 and the present day,” it said.

The women have until July 1 to submit their testimony. The research group, which has yet to be set up, is mandated by Roman Catholic church leadership and will be chaired by former government minister Wim Deetman, who aims to complete the research by the end of the fall, RKK said.

The move comes after victim support groups charged at a parliamentary hearing in January that the abuse of girls was underexposed in a major report on Roman Catholic sexual abuse in the Netherlands.

The report, published in December 2011, was issued by a church-installed commission also chaired by Deetman. Of the cases examined, 22 percent concerned girls.

The follow-up research aims to provide both an overall picture and a detailed analysis of the issue of abuse and violence. “The research is explicitly not a criminal investigation into individual cases,” stressed the RKK.

The Dutch bishops’ conference and the Conference of Dutch Religious had already stated their readiness to cooperate with any follow-up.

Demands had been growing to reopen the Deetman inquiry in the wake of news reports of boys being castrated in the 1950s to prevent “homosexual behavior.” The Deetman commission denied that it suppressed evidence of the practice when it published its report.

The commission’s report on sexual abuse of children by clergy and other Roman Catholic church employees in the Netherlands, found one in five vulnerable children had been molested, a rate twice that found in other countries.

In its 1,100-page report, the commission concluded that between 10,000 and 20,000 children in Roman Catholic institutional care had suffered sexual molestation in the period between 1945 and 1981. Of the 800 perpetrators, more than 100 were still alive.

A separate commission is ruling on the financial compensation that victims should receive. In the first 10 cases, the diocese or order concerned has been ordered to pay damages of between 5,000 and 20,000 euros. In the coming months, it is expected that compensation of up to 100,000 euros will be awarded in exceptional cases.

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