Calls for Urgent Inquiry into Sexual Abuse of Jewish Children in Illegal Schools
By Siobhan Fenton
April 8, 2016
|Students in ultra-Orthodox education may typically spend entire days studying religious texts, with lessons exclusively in Yiddish Getty|
An urgent inquiry must be launched into the sexual abuse of Jewish children following an investigation by The Independent, campaigners have said.
Kol v’Oz,a global organisation dedicated to preventing abuse of Jewish children, has formally written to the UK’s investigations body for child abuse urging action. In a letter to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Chief Executive Manny Waks wrote: “The IICSA notes that it will investigate a wide range of institutions, including those who fall under the category of ‘other religious organisations’. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the IICSA to seriously consider including at least a segment of the Jewish community in its investigations.
“In the past few years there have been numerous reports of troubling incidents within the Jewish community; more specifically, within the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in the UK, including a series of reports by The Independent which note that child sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred in illegal Jewish ultra-Orthodox schools and that authorities turned a blind eye to these schools due, in part, to the fear of being accused of anti-Semitism,” Mr Waks added.
An investigation by The Independent revealed that thousands of Jewish children are missing from full time education records in the London borough of Hackney and are feared to be attending illegal, ultra-strict faith schools. The schools teach only religious scripture and all lessons are in Yiddish; meaning that many children with no qualifications and unable to speak English. Physical beatings and sexual abuse is also alleged to take place at some schools.
A redacted internal memo revealed by The Independent recorded that Hackney’s education authority had initially begun collecting information about the illegal schools but destroyed it after receiving a legal threat from some schools. Department of Education staff have been aware of this since at least 2010 but does not appear to have acted to prevent the destruction of these records.
In response to the allegations, the Department for Education said that the redacted internal memo will be investigated. A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: "Hackney Council takes all allegations of abuse extremely seriously and we thoroughly investigate all reports we receive of abuse involving a child in Hackney. We've made the Metropolitan Police and the City & Hackney Safeguarding Board aware of contents of The Independent's report and would urge anyone with specific concerns to contact us or the police."
The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse was established under the Inquiries Act 2005 to independently investigate allegations of child sexual abuse by institutions. It undertook the investigation into allegations against Labour peer Lord Janner and alleged institutional failures over child protection by the Anglican Church.