Channel 4 documentary looking at how claims of child sexual abuse are dealt with in Britain's Orthodox Jewish community sparks off debate in kingdom
A documentary looking at how claims of child sexual abuse are dealt with in Britain's Orthodox Jewish community was recently featured on British television. It sparked off debate in the United Kingdom,but how has London and its Jewish community reacted to the documentary?
The documentary, "Britain's Hidden Child Abuse," featured on Channel 4 on January 30, secretly filmed Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, leader of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.
"It's an investigation of the way the haredi community deals with allegations of child sexual abuse," says executive producer Tony Stark.
"What we've found is instead of rabbis advising people who come to them if they feel they've been sexually abused, to go to the police, they've been trying to deal with the issue themselves. They've been discouraging people from going to the police, and in some cases even forbidding them."
However, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has refuted all claims that they refuse to take allegations of child abuse seriously, stating they have a duty and responsibility to protect children.
Rabbi Barry Marcus of the Central Synagogue of London spoke to JN1 about his reaction to the documentary.
"The guidelines are pretty clear now as to how we need to protect, especially children, and the more vulnerable in our community. There was an incident with a teacher within the United Synagogue some years ago, and I think that spurred the United Synagogue to be proactive, rather than reactive, which seems to be what's going on now within the haredi community. That doesn't make them any more guilty."
The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has published the number of a telephone line to report instances of child abuse to Rabbis who have been specially trained.
Indeed the Union recognizes that there "are certain times when it is correct and necessary to call the social services and police."