Saudi regime tortures feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul

This 21 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Family of Jailed Saudi Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul: She Was Waterboarded, Flogged & Electrocuted

It’s been a year since women’s right activist Loujain al-Hathloul was detained and jailed in Saudi Arabia for leading a movement to lift the kingdom’s ban on female drivers and overhaul its male “guardianship” system. Despite international outcry, she’s been imprisoned ever since.

During that time, her family says, she’s been held in solitary confinement and faced abuse, including electric shocks, flogging and threats of sexual violence. The Saudi government has resisted calls from human rights groups and lawmakers from around the world to release Loujain and the other jailed activists. We speak with two of Loujain’s siblings, Walid and Lina al-Hathloul.

This 22 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul jailed and tortured after leading women’s rights movement

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was arrested after fighting for women’s rights in the kingdom. She’s been held for over a year and has only just been told her charges. Her siblings, Lina Al-Hathloul and Walid Al-Hathloul, have been sharing her story from the outside and fighting for her release. “She’s facing a trial, but the trial is really not transparent, because we don’t know when the next session is,” Walid Al-Hathloul says. “We don’t know how everything is going to be processed.”

On Friday, a ghastly execution took place in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, involving the decapitation and subsequent public crucifixion of Ahmed bin ‘Adhaib bin ‘Askar al-Shamlani al-‘Anzi, who was executed on a number of charges, including … homosexual intercourse: here.


United States women’s rights demonstrators interviewed

United States women's rights demonstrators

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Thousands rally across the US to defend abortion rights

By our reporters

22 May 2019

Thousands of people across the United States took to the streets on Tuesday to participate in protests and rallies in support of abortion rights. The nationwide protest was organized by #StoptheBans, a coalition of 50 groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).

According to the organizers, there were more than 500 demonstrations, with events in all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico and Ottawa, Canada. The number of demonstrations, mobilizing students, workers and youth, reflected the broad popular support for the right of women to choose and in defense of democratic rights more generally. A CBS News poll published Tuesday showed more than two-thirds of Americans supporting Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision barring states from outlawing abortion.

President Donald Trump is making opposition to abortion rights a major plank in his reelection campaign and has vowed to secure a reversal of Roe V. Wade. Tuesday’s protests were triggered by a series of newly enacted state laws, including in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, directly challenging that seminal ruling by criminalizing abortion after six or eight weeks of pregnancy and imposing draconian prison sentences on health care professionals who perform the procedure outside of the arbitrary restrictions laid down in the legislation.

Most of these laws define a fertilized egg as a person, potentially making women who have abortions vulnerable to being criminally charged with child abuse, homicide or even murder. The explicit aim of the laws, which are all but certain to be blocked in the courts, is to force the US Supreme Court to reconsider Roe V. Wade. With the addition of two far-right anti-abortion justices appointed by Trump—Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—there is good reason to believe that the right-wing majority on the court may be prepared to overturn the 1973 decision.

Part of the demonstration in Manhattan, New York City

Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) attended the rallies and distributed the statement “Mobilize the working class in defense of abortion rights.”

The organizations that sponsored the protests are linked to the Democratic Party, which politically dominated the events. …

But last year, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, declared that abortion rights would not be a “litmus test” for supporting Democrats running in the midterm elections. And the Democratic governor of Louisiana announced last Thursday that he would sign the anti-abortion bill working its way through the state legislature.

New York City

Some 1,000 protesters gathered in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan for a spirited and angry rally. Protesters chanted, “Pro-life is a lie, they don’t care if women die.”

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to Will from Queens, an office worker. “I am for a woman’s right to make the decision,” he said. “The government should not be involved, and I am sick of the hypocrisy of the right. They want to control a fetus, but as soon as it grows up to be 18, they ship it off to war.”

A WSWS reporter pointed out that the Democrats shipped young people off to war as well, and Will nodded vigorously. “That’s why I’m a registered independent. The Democratic Party has become corrupted.”

Protestors in New York City

Amanda, a dog-walker who works in Manhattan, is originally from Louisiana. She said: “I’m disgusted by this attack on women and the fact that they want to ruin so many lives. I feel personally offended. I agree with mobilizing the working class. Most of the time it is working class women that suffer from restrictions on abortions.”


Ashley, a team leader at an NGO, said, “I am appalled by what is going on in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia. I am also disgusted with the idea that there is no exception for rape or incest. You need to trust women with their own health. We say it is New York, it can’t happen here. But I am not sure about that anymore.

“If it was actually about life it would look a lot different. In our country, we don’t do well for women’s health. I was just reading that Alabama has a high infant mortality rate, and there is a crisis in health care for women across the board.

“I was reading that roughly 70 percent of the population supports a woman’s right to choose. I personally am for Medicare for all. Even if they are not necessarily for that, across the country polls show that most people are concerned about health care. That should be the focus.”

Los Angeles

A rally in Westwood, Los Angeles attracted a large contingent of High School students. One spoke anonymously, saying, “This is a completely unconstitutional ban on reproductive rights and will make abortion inaccessible for the community. It’s going to affect the poor and underprivileged like people of color the most.”

Anna Weiss, a high school student, told the WSWS, “When I saw what happened I got very scared. It was terrifying to me. I was angry, hopeless, and having this rally here really inspired me to go out and show my support.

“This definitely affects working class people the most. If working class women can’t get an abortion, then it’ll be harder for them to finish high school and college and be able to be successful in life.”

Nashville, Tennessee

Some 200 people attended the noon rally at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Representatives from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU spoke, along with women who shared their own stories. No elected officials participated.

Allison and Raeven

“Class is definitely an issue,” said Raeven Offutt, 25. “If abortion rights are taken away, people with money may find a way to have safe abortions, but for the lower class, they won’t have the means to have a safe abortion or to take care of themselves.”

“We have people challenging our safety, our right, what we have access to, and that’s scary. That makes me angry, and that’s what brought me here today,” said Kaycee Whiteside, 25.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Around 2,000 people attended a rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Mario and Erinna came to the rally with their young daughter. Erinna said, “I want there to be the right to an abortion. I think it’s crazy that it’s still something that should be debated.”

The protest on the Diag at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

She responded strongly to the emphasis of our reporters on the question of class. “It’s expensive to get an abortion! It’s thousands of dollars. And what if people need it for medical reasons?”

Mario added, “It’s about the money. We are electing individuals that are funded by the corporations. The US is based on capitalism and money. I agree that we need our own party.”

Mario and Erinna

WSWS campaigners explained that the right to an abortion is fundamentally tied to the fight for socialism and the reorganization of society.

“The economy should be planned scientifically and rationally,” Mario said.

Gina and Andrea are graduates from Eastern Michigan University. “Keep abortion safe and legal,” said Gina. “Otherwise, women will die of unsafe abortions.” Andrea added, “Also, there will be silencing of women who are victims of incest.”

LAWSUIT: ‘CONSCIENCE’ RULE UNDERMINES HEALTH CARE Two dozen U.S. states and municipalities sued the Trump administration to stop it from enforcing a rule that would make it easier for doctors and nurses to avoid performing procedures like abortions, sterilizations and assisted suicide on religious or moral grounds. [Reuters]

NEVADA PASSES PRO-CHOICE ABORTION BILL Bucking the anti-abortion political trends in several other states, the Nevada state Assembly approved a pro-choice bill to remove criminal penalties for people who terminate a pregnancy without consulting a physician. [HuffPost]

ABORTION PROVIDERS FEAR FOR THEIR SAFETY As a re-emboldened anti-abortion movement has emerged, buoyed by recent legislative victories in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Utah and Arkansas, those who work to protect abortion rights are on high alert for their safety.   [HuffPost]

Alabama, USA government attacks women’s reproductive rights

This 16 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Abortion Ban – What Happens to Unwanted Children When Abortion is Illegal?

What happens to children born because abortion is illegal? Will the new abortion ban leave unwanted children without proper care? A Thom Hartmann listener calls in to tell her story of going through life feeling like she was an unwanted child. Should anyone have to go through this?

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Alabama abortion ban: Back to barbarism

16 May 2019

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law Wednesday afternoon the most stringent ban on abortion in any state, criminalizing the medical procedure except in cases where the life or health of the mother is in serious danger. An amendment to permit abortion in cases of rape and incest was removed from the bill when it reached the floor of the state Senate on May 9.

The new law imposes a prison term of up to 99 years for any doctor who performs an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman. There is a ten-year term for attempting to perform an abortion. While women who receive an abortion are not explicitly criminalized, the law establishes “personhood” for a fetus from the moment of conception. This opens the door for criminal prosecution for child abuse of pregnant women for any conduct deemed to be potentially damaging to the fetus.

Republican legislators in the state House and state Senate decided to enact the most extreme anti-abortion bill in order to give the US Supreme Court the opportunity to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which threw out state laws criminalizing abortion. Rep. Terri Collins, the sponsor of the bill, was quite explicit that the ban on abortion for victims of rape and incest was necessary in order to assert, in the face of expected legal challenges in the federal courts, the principle that a fetus is a living person from the moment of conception, with full constitutional rights.

The Alabama law is an outrageous act of medieval barbarism. Its consequences, should it eventually be upheld by the courts, would be to force women seeking abortion in Alabama into back-alley procedures at greatly increased risk of death or mutilation. This danger will face working class women especially, since wealthier women will be able to travel to other states to have the procedure. This is in a state so impoverished and with such a deficient social infrastructure that more than half of its counties have no obstetricians.

The law is unconstitutional, not merely because it directly contradicts the Roe v. Wade precedent, but because it represents the elevation of a religious doctrine to state policy in violation of the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion. Alabama legislators were quite explicit about the religious motivation for the law.

Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss, a sponsor of the bill, argued against exceptions for rape and incest, declaring, “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life.” The House sponsor, Terri Collins, said the bill was the outcome of “prayer”. This directly contradicts the First Amendment, which bans translating into law—imposed on all citizens—the religious prejudices of fundamentalist Protestants or the corrupt Roman Catholic hierarchy.

There is every reason to believe that the five-member ultra-right majority on the US Supreme Court is looking for an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, despite the perfunctory statements made by four of the five during their confirmation hearings that Roe was a settled precedent. Significantly, the high court on Monday went out of its way to overturn a 40-year-old precedent dealing with an obscure issue of state sovereignty, namely, whether states have sovereign immunity from lawsuits by residents of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent said that the five-member right-wing majority was setting a precedent for overturning well-established precedents and warned, “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.” The unstated reference to the 46-year-old Roe v. Wade decision was understood by all court observers.

There are a multitude of abortion rights cases now in the federal courts, triggered by a wave of restrictive legislation enacted by Republican-controlled state legislatures, mainly in the period since Trump entered the White House and appointed two ferociously anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, which did not shift the balance on the court on the issue, but Brett Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy, who had been the swing vote on numerous abortion rights cases and co-wrote the current controlling decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which represented a restriction on abortion rights but left Roe v. Wade basically intact.

Just since January, four states—Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio—have enacted “fetal heartbeat” laws that ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. The sole purpose of these laws is to block the vast majority of abortions, since few women are even certain they are pregnant only six weeks after conception.

One law, introduced in Texas but not yet enacted, goes even further: it would remove the exemption of abortion from the state definition of homicide, making every woman who receives an abortion potentially a candidate for Death Row.

These are not merely state decisions. They have national implications. It cannot be ruled out that state laws criminalizing abortion within a state will be interpreted to criminalize the conduct of a woman who travels outside the state to obtain an abortion, as well as the actions of those who help her. This is the barbaric logic of the position that “abortion is murder.”

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that the Supreme Court majority will not go beyond merely reversing Roe v. Wade, which would leave abortion policy to the states. Also possible is a sort of Dred Scott decision in the sphere of women’s rights, requiring states that recognize abortion rights to enforce the prohibitions enacted by anti-abortion states, just as Trump is seeking to compel “sanctuary cities” to enforce the most draconian attacks on immigrants and refugees.

Beyond the legal counterrevolution against Roe is the implacable withdrawal of social support for women seeking an abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 90 percent of all US counties have no abortion provider. In seven American states, there is only a single abortion provider in the entire state. Alabama has only three. Even a large, densely populated Midwest state like Ohio has only 10, down from 45 in 1992. Twenty-seven large American cities have no abortion provider.

And abortions are not covered under Medicaid or Obamacare—because of continuous capitulations by the Democrats on this issue. The result is that for much of the United States, working class women have already been deprived of the right to abortion. They cannot fly to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Over decades in which the right to abortion has been largely eviscerated, the Democratic Party, always cowering before the Christian right, has done little to defend it.

Nancy Pelosi tweeted this week against “this relentless and cruel Republican assault on women’s health.” But during the 2018 campaign she declared that defense of the right to an abortion was not a “litmus test” and insisted on backing Democrats in some congressional districts who held equally “cruel” views.

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and other presidential candidates also condemned the decision. But none of them have made the defense of abortion rights, particularly in the South and in rural areas, a major feature of their campaigns. This is despite Trump’s repeated declarations that he intends to make the overturn of Roe v. Wade a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.

Now the incessant talk of “empowering” women—which means, of course, bourgeois women—runs into the embarrassing spectacle of Alabama’s first female governor, once hailed as a moderating influence on the Republican Party, signing into law the most restrictive anti-woman legislation in recent American history.

The reality is that abortion is a democratic right that is of particular importance to the working class. It is working class women who must make difficult decisions about how and when to have children. They face the greatest danger of becoming pregnant through rape or some other form of abuse. The class divide in American society applies just as forcefully in that sphere as in any other.

Abortion rights … can be defended only through the struggle, led by the working class, against the capitalist system and all of its political representatives.

I’m From Alabama And Gave Birth To My Rapist’s Child Because I Couldn’t Get An Abortion: here.

WAVE OF PROTESTS PLANNED OVER ABORTION BANS Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women’s March, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other groups are organizing nationwide demonstrations on Tuesday to protest the wave of new state laws restricting abortion. [HuffPost]

MISSOURI LAWMAKER BACKPEDALS ON ‘CONSENSUAL RAPE’ CLAIM A Missouri Republican who referenced “consensual rapes” during a debate over his state’s proposed eight-week abortion ban has walked back the remark, reportedly claiming he misspoke. [HuffPost]

Protests erupt across US over barbaric anti-abortion ban in Alabama: here.

Egyptian feminist against Islamophobia

Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahawy, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Egyptian is a well-known feminist, who wrote several books about patriarchy, the rule of men, in the Islamic world. She is also a well-known critic of racism in the US, where she lives.

Eltahawy also played an important role on social media in the commotion surrounding the Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed who fled Saudi Arabia from her family. She was en route to Australia, but stranded in Thailand. Eltahawy, with more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, committed to her cause. …

Eltahawy explains that she is not only fighting against patriarchy, but that feminism is also about fighting other forms of intolerance such as white supremacy, racism, fascism and Islamophobia. “This is a time when hatred is growing in Europe, including the Netherlands. Two months ago a white extremist Islamophobic man slaughtered 51 Muslims. In the US we have a president who introduced a Muslim ban and continuously attacks one of the first Muslim women in the Congress.” She calls it dangerous times.

Saudi women still fighting for their rights

This 14 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Fight Continues For Women’s Rights In Saudi Arabia

There are still women activists in jail for protesting for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. John Iadarola and Manal al-Sharif break it down on The Damage Report. Follow The Damage Report on Facebook.

Trump wants nuclear weapons for Saudi royals

This 1 April 2019 video by United States Congresswoman and Democratic party presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii says about itself:

Trump’s Mind-Blowing Approval of Nuclear Tech Sale to Saudis

President Trump’s recent decision to allow U.S. companies to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology is both mind-blowing and inexplicable. How does it serve our interests to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons?

Nuclear weapons for the Saudi crown prince not only do not serve the interests of the people of the USA, but neither do they serve the interests of the oppressed people of Saudi Arabia, many of them poor while the royals are very rich. Or of the people of Saudi occupied Bahrain. Or of the people of Saudi massacred Yemen.

TRUMP VETOES TO SUPPORT SAUDI WAR President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution to end U.S. support of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, which has been blamed for tens of thousands of deaths in the region. He called the resolution “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.” [HuffPost]

Court of Appeal to consider legality of British arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Campaign Against Arms Trade is appealing to overturn a 2017 High Court judgement allowing the British government to continue to export arms to the absolute monarchy: here.

THE WOMAN TAX A tricky gender pay gap emerging in the race for donor dollars in the 2020 Democratic presidential race is seeing woman candidates lose out. The number of women running means they’re losing any advantage that being the sole female candidate would confer. They are also coping with broader sexism in the fundraising process, with some sponsors seeing women as risky bets. [HuffPost]

SAUDI ARABIA DETAINS 2 U.S. CITIZENS Saudi Arabia detained eight people, including two dual U.S.-Saudi citizens, in a new round of arrests in the kingdom targeting individuals supportive of women’s rights and those with ties to jailed activists. It marks the first sweep targeting individuals perceived as critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since the slaying of writer Jamal Khashoggi. [HuffPost]

Sexually abusive priest still working in monastery

This 21 February 2019 video by CBS TV from the USA says about itself:

Catholic bishops in the Netherlands have reportedly been covering up church sex abuse for decades. The country had been known for recognizing and compensating victims. Charlie D’Agata reports.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw today:

Saskia was abused by a priest, and he still works in the monastery

By Marije van Beek

Saskia was abused by a priest in a monastery. That case has been settled with compensation and apologies. But she is worried: the perpetrator is still working in the monastery, and the monastery leadership does not understand her.

She came to rest in the monastery. At that time, Saskia was 21 years old, and had just moved to rooms in Rotterdam. She wasn’t doing well. “I got stuck in my education and I found living alone very difficult. In addition, I already had not really wonderful and romantic sexual experiences. Someone advised me to go to the monastery for a while, that seemed like a good idea.”

Upon arrival in Heeswijk-Dinther in Brabant province, at the Abbey of Berne, the quiet corridors immediately calmed her and she met a “very nice” priest. “I came there with my grief, and he led me to my room. The only thing I remember is that I woke up and he sat on the edge of the bed. He had put a soporific in my tea, he said.”

Alarm bells

With a look of incomprehension, Saskia, now 56 years old, wonders why alarm bells did not immediately go off after that cup of tea. “I was brought up protectedly, and: wasn’t it a priest? So it would be fine, I thought. I kept coming to the monastery again and again, when things had become too much for me.”

Until then she tells her story in a controlled and fluent way, in a meeting location somewhere in Groningen. The sequel is more difficult. “That year he started crossing red lines”, says Saskia. “I choose that word because I can’t talk about exactly what happened. I thought it was very dirty, I can tell you.”

The 2013 ruling made by the Complaints Committee for Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church describes precisely what the sexual abuse was. It lasted for a few years. “I didn’t have the impression that I could refuse. This is difficult to explain, I know, because people sometimes don’t believe it. But I was so stuck in the situation. He let me do it, something I didn’t want at all. It is comparable to peer pressure, which means that you do something against your will, because you need something from the group. I really needed the peace that I found in the monastery. And I initially got it there too. But it turned out that there was an extremely expensive price tag.”

Only when Saskia was a little older, got into a relationship and found a new, fine house, did she manage to keep the priest away. Her life went on. She got married, went to work, had children. But it didn’t go well yet, she says. “I have felt guilty for what I did for twenty years. I could not be the mother and the wife I wanted to be. My husband had bought a pig in a poke, I thought, with someone who carries such a past with her.”

“Everything that went wrong in my life – and that was quite a lot – I saw as punishment by God for what I had done. Relationships that broke down, for example. At the end of the nineteen eighties, I started a theology course, where sexual abuse was discussed, and I learned that he should never have done this as a clergyman, as an authority. Then I suddenly thought: damn it, he‘s the culprit.”

Ten years ago, Saskia experienced major depression and suicidal tendencies and went into therapy. “It was there that I first started to talk about what I experienced. I found out that the idea that I was to blame had long isolated me. That is also what happens when people play it down. That really made me stand alone.”

Two thousand euros

A complaint by a man about sexual abuse – which took place between the late 1980s and late 1990s – had already been declared valid against the same clergyman, it turned out. “The similarities of that case with mine are shocking”, says Saskia. “Just like with me, it started with grooming. He told everything about himself and asked you to keep it a secret. That started with very small things. For example his taste in music. “The elderly people here don’t understand that”, he said. He created a confidential atmosphere, and he also worked on your guilt: after all, you are always allowed to come here?”

With the decision of the committee about her complaint, which was also upheld, a burden fell off her shoulders. She hits the table with her open hand. “My guilt is gone. Very really. The clergyman just said it to the committee: “I did that.”

The priest apologized at the session. From a business point of view, the issue was settled with the compensation that Saskia received, two thousand euros. But her worries are not over yet. The priest is still active in the Abbey of Berne, deals with guests in the monastery, including young people. “That bothers me,” says Saskia. “I think that he should no longer come into contact with people. He is dangerous in the one-to-one contact. Otherwise he would not have done this to me? Who says the leadership is not being lied to again? He has done everything right under their noses?”

The priest himself cannot respond because of personal circumstances, says the abbot of the Abbey of Berne, Denis Hendrickx. The abbot does not share the concerns of Saskia. Measures have been taken, he says: the priest has been suspended for a while, church members have been informed of the abuse. Whether it is wise to bring the clergyman into contact with people? “He has had his punishment”, says Hendrickx. “This does not mean that we are no longer aware of the past. We remain alert.”


In a mail exchange about this issue between her and the abbot something “very strange” happened, Saskia says. “He spoke of the abuse and said the committee had determined that it was a “friendship” between the priest and me in which “unsuitable” things had happened. But that was not what the committee determined, those were the words of the clergyman, which he used in his defense.”

“That sentence is incredibly poignant”, says Saskia. “Because by pretending that there was a friendship, the blame comes back to me again. And it minimizes the abuse. The words “not suitable” – that is as if this priest once committed a minor infraction. No, he has repeatedly abused me. And not just me, but another person too.”

Eg, there were more things that gave Saskia the feeling that the monastery had little awareness of what the priest had caused. “They celebrated his priestly ordination anniversary, had him do interviews and do public appearances. Apparently they don’t have the feeling that the abuse could affect his status as a clergyman.”

At Saskia’s request, the monastery is now trying to keep the priest out of the media. Abbot Hendrickx says that he did not mean to condone the abuse with the aforementioned sentence about the “relationship”. “In the meantime,” Saskia sighs, “the person who abused me can still work with young people.”

To forgive

The priest who abused Saskia has not been convicted in the regular legal system: the case there would have been time barred. When the extent of the abuse scandals in the church came to light, the church decided to set up a committee, with no limitation period. That way Saskia was able to go somewhere and she received compensation and apologies. But this system also has its disadvantages, she thinks. “The church is actually conducting its own legal system about crime. But you cannot solve sexual abuse internally. They consider themselves experts in this area, but they are not at all. Nevertheless, they believe they can impose sanctions and assess whether someone will do a repeat offense.”

Eventually the abbot came to Groningen for an interview with Saskia. “I thought: “Fine, then I can finally explain my concerns to him”. But in that conversation he said: “It must be possible to forgive at some point in time.” …

Saskia … took that as follows: “I was wondering: how can I forgive someone who can continue as usual in the monastery? No, I’m worried terribly. After all, there is a secondary school opposite that monastery. In my eyes, these are all potential victims. I would very much like to have lost that worry.”

In the meantime, Saskia has sought help from fellow survivors’ organizations and abuse experts. A world of difference with how the church approached her, she says. “Some education or professionalism in dealing with victims is missing in the church. I have thought long and hard about why people treated me so carelessly. I think the church is used to focusing on sinners rather than victims. Their core business is “sin” and “forgiveness”, and we are just a kind of by-product of sin that they can’t do much with.”

“I think the abbot thinks the period of abuse is behind them and that he has adhered to all the conditions and rules of the church. And that it should by now be over. But they completely ignore the fact that as a victim you have been damaged for your life.”

Then she tells me that her faith, which she enjoyed a great deal of in her youth, has not been what it was since. “I never again think you can dream pleasantly during a mass. Eg, participating in sharing bread and wine in the church is very difficult for me. Because I know that on the other side of the country someone is handing out the same thing, the one who did that to me.”

The full name of Saskia and the name of the priest are known to the editors.

“Better aftercare needed for victims of clerical abuse”

Better aftercare is needed for victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy. According to the alliance organization Women’s Platform on Church Child Abuse (VPKK), the victims often encounter incomprehension and insensitivity. These are people for whom the church itself has established that the abuse has indeed taken place and who have already gone through a complaints procedure. The interest group is calling for a guideline for dealing with or aftercare for this group.

Of the more than a thousand Catholic clerics who have been guilty of abuse in the Netherlands [in the twentieth century], a small minority is still alive. At least “ten to twenty” of these clergymen are still active in monasteries and parishes, says the Dutch Religious Conference (KNR), the umbrella organization of orders and congregations in the Netherlands.

According to the VPKK, the measures taken against clergy who committed abuse are not always clear. They notice major differences per order and diocese. …

One of the measures is that perpetrators are no longer allowed to do the work that caused them to commit the abuse. But the case of Saskia, where the priest still works with young people, shows, according to abuse expert Maud Kips of the VPKK, that this is not true everywhere.

The KNR mentions the contact group for victims under the leadership of Bishop Hans van den Hende as an example of an aftercare tool. But according to abuse expert Maud Kips of the VPKK that is an “empty shell”. She has no good experiences with that contact group. “So we no longer cooperate with that.” …


It was called a bit of fidgeting in the nineteen seventies. Alarm bells did not ring in the event of abuse. France’s most prominent Catholic clergyman, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been sentenced for not stopping abuse by priest Bernard Preynat. The victim of abuse François Devaux played a major role in uncovering the affair.

Pope Francis does not live up to the expectations of victims at the [Vatican] summit about abuse. Just like at the start of the four-day abuse summit in the Vatican that took place last month, Pope Francis also spoke firmly at the conclusion. Child abuse may no longer occur in the Roman Catholic Church and it may no longer be covered up. But how?