Exposing Child Sexual Abuse Among the Ultra-Orthodox

By Adam Martin
Atlantic Wire
May 16, 2012

It's always fascinating to get a look inside insular communities like New York's ultra-Orthodox Jews, but glimpse provided by The New York Times' Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera Thursday is quite disturbing since it's about how child sexual abuse often goes unpunished. The money quote comes after the first few paragraphs of introduction: "There is no nice way of saying it," one grandmother who reported an abuser told The Times. "Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful." Shudder.

The thing is, this is only a story because the community's so insular and the reporting so spare, and most people outside the ultra-Orthodox world know little to nothing about it. It's not like there's more abuse among the ultra-Orthodox, according to Otterman and Rivera: "Scholars believe that abuse rates in the ultra-Orthodox world are roughly the same as those in the general population, but for generations, most ultra-Orthodox abuse victims kept silent, fearful of being stigmatized in a culture where the genders are strictly separated and discussion of sex is taboo." There's also a stigma against turning over fellow Jews to non-Jewish authorities, as well as simple community pride and the desire to avoid stigmatization.

Anyway, it's a fascinating read, and we're looking forward to the follow-up tomorrow on criticism against the Brooklyn district attorney for his handling of abuse cases in the ultra-Orthodox community.



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