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“As a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of Christian priests, I know first hand what it is to live in pain, fear and suffering.”

Child Protection Dialogue Must Continue
By Bhakta David Gauld

ISKCON is at a crossroads in our handling of the issue of child abuse and child protection. The financial support pledged to the Office of Child Protection, by the GBC is an encouraging reflection on the way we are handling this issue. I believe that the process of educating devotees, creating child protection teams that really work, and ensuring that only appropriate devotees assume teaching and other child-contact positions of responsibility, must become a major agenda item for the movement. In addition, the provision of healing and justice to survivors of child abuse within ISKCON must be seen as fundamental to the health of our society as a whole. If we cannot reach out to those devotees who have been sexually, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually abused, including those who are hostile to ISKCON today, then we are failing Srila Prabhupada's vision for a spiritual family in which the whole world can live.

As a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of Christian priests, I know first hand what it is to live in pain, fear and suffering. ISKCON needs to dialogue with other religious and secular bodies dealing with child abuse. We need to draw on the healthy resources of these bodies. We need to solicit frank lines of dialogue with the judiciary and police, with psychologists and physicians, if we are to make inroads into recovering from this problem. The issue of child abuse is not one to be swept under the carpet of ISKCON's history. The dangers of pedophilia exist now in the movement, and regrettably, we cannot say that child abuse is a thing of the past. ISKCON has taken some great strides in openly dealing with this issue. It is time to take further steps towards becoming that family that Prabhupada envisaged us to be. I am happy to share resources and advice with survivors or pro-survivors, and can be contacted at kmarino@eisa.net.au

© CHAKRA 12-May-2000

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