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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report


C.1: Introduction

1. In some areas of the country, children attend schools with high concentrations of individuals from the same religious background, even if they are not faith schools.[1] In many minority religious organisations, ties of kinship, community, business and religion overlap and interrelate, regardless of ethnicity. As Ms Pragna Patel, the founder of Southall Black Sisters (SBS), said:[2]

“I mean, everybody knows that religion and culture are intertwined. Religion is always experienced within a cultural setting. When women come to us and talk about their experiences of abuse, they also talk about the cultural and religious pressures on them to remain silent, to not disclose, to go back and resolve it within the community because they need to maintain the honour of the family and the community and not to shame their family. So this idea that culture and religion can be separated, when, in fact, they're closely intertwined and closely experienced as a lived experience, is something that is a bit of a red herring.”[3]

2. As set out in Part B, child sexual abuse in religious organisations and settings appears to be under-reported, both internally within the organisations and externally to statutory agencies. The barriers that may inhibit reporting of child sexual abuse in religious organisations may be linked to the organisation itself or factors related to the community in which the organisation operates.


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