Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
Independent hotline for abused Buddhists
From today on there is an independent hotline for victims of sexual abuse within the Buddhist community. It was founded by the foundation managing the Reporting Child Pornography on the Internet site, which every year gets 30,000 messages.
One of the donors is the Thai Buddharama Temple in Waalwijk. Another one is the Buddhist Union, the contact for the government of the 50,000 to 65,000 Buddhists in the Netherlands.
According to director Arda Gerkens of the foundation’s new digital reporting center this is a response to the reports on sexual abuse among Buddhists. “First, we want to offer victims and their surroundings a place to tell their stories. On the basis of the reports that come, we will identify the nature and extent of the problem. If that is clear, then we have the experience and expertise to give good advice to those involved. The ultimate aim is of course to prevent further abuse as much as possible.”
Victims can make an appointment via the website or the telephone hotline to report abuse via a web form. Gerkens: “Then there are several possibilities. We can refer you to the right persons or authorities, but also provide information about reporting the crime to the police.”
According to Gerkens this is the first contact point worldwide for Buddhists who have suffered from abuse. There have also been in the USA and in Thailand many scandals involving Buddhist teachers and monks.
Last May the NOS published on sexual abuse in Buddhist circles. This involved, among others, the Thai monk Mettavihari who was guilty at the Waalwijk temple in the 70s and 80s of abuse of young male students. Several victims were minors. Also a man reported to the NOS about having been abused by Mettavihari in that period as a 12-year-old neighbour boy.
After the monk had been dismissed from the temple, he continued at least until 1995 elsewhere in the country harassing his students. Altogether now between twenty and thirty victims have reported in several places. There are still new cases emerging. Eg, Toine van Beek, president of the temple in Waalwijk, heard a report by a man who was at the time of the abuse 14 or 15.
After the news about the abuse by Mettavihari had come out, Van Beek apologized on behalf of the temple. Later he organized at the request of the victim involved a meeting in the temple, which was attended by five people.
The temple administration has several reasons to financially support the hotline, says Van Beek. “Probably there are still many people around who have been abused by Mettavihari or other Buddhist leaders. Those people need to be helped with the trauma they have suffered.”
See also here.