There is considerable hyperventilation in the comments section over at this blog, primarily in regards to understanding the social realities at play.
This really isn’t about religion. It’s about the fact that in a religious community people are close and cloistered. It’s about the fact that victims have not felt strong enough to confront the world they live in. I certainly don’t blame them. It’s decidedly not about a victim trembling in regards to the Halacha of mesira. It’s not about a victim coming to a Rabbi who follows the Aguda versus the RCA. The closer and more united a community is, the more difficult it is for victims to come forward. This, more than halachic nuance, is the critical issue.
I contend that very few are truly worried about the halachic issue; they are a drop in the ocean. In the past, it was a combination of misguided attempts at minimising bad press and a gross lack of understanding of the nature of crimes, their recidivism and the long-term effect they have, which influenced well-meaning people to make the tragic wrong call.
In my estimation it’s mainly all about societal pressures and realities not halachic pronouncements. Cover ups have occurred throughout history across all groups and all religions. The common element is the close and cloistered nature of the group.
We need to focus on the main group of people: victims. We need to continue to encourage each and every one of them to feel they can come forward without the social stigma. There is no halachic issue according to any posek: a victim may and should go to the police. While we concentrate on those who knew and should have known better, we must ask ourselves why we have been complicit in a societal structure that inhibits victims from going to the police.
Some of the commenters on the aforementioned blog can’t “imagine” that this sort of thing would happen in a modern orthodox or religious Zionist style community. Think again. It happened. The crimes were not reported and it was not about halacha. It was about victims feeling that they could not go to the police. This is what we need to address.
Victims will make a difference to attitudes. They don’t need a Rabbinic or Psychologist gatekeeper. What victims can achieve, nobody else can.
The key to reform is opening up tabooed doors.
There are a number of perpetrators and victims who still occupy the proverbial “cone of silence”. I continue to hope that victims have the strength and empowerment to emerge and proceed directly to the authorities. It matters little whether incidents happened 5 years ago or 25 years ago.
Silence only works against the present and future. If we deal with the past, we protect the future.