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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report

Contents

C.3: Approaches to discussions of sex, sexuality and sexual abuse

10. Within some religious traditions and communities, matters relating to sex are not discussed openly. Those representing a large mosque in Birmingham stated that it had a “conservative” community and this would affect the information that they would give people about sexual abuse, sex and sexuality.[1] Similarly, Mr Shital Adatia, President of the Shree Hindu Temple and Community Centre, told us that “anything to have the word ‘sexual’ in it is a taboo within the Asian community”.[2]

11. The absence of open discussion on matters related to sex can make those subject to abuse feel unable to report it. Ms Yehudis Goldsobel, Chief Executive of Migdal Emunah, told us that most Charedi children would know nothing about sex or sexual relationships, nor would they have the vocabulary to describe sexual organs.

“They most certainly don’t know the correct terminology. They wouldn’t call it a penis and a vagina, they would call it private parts or some other sort of name that the family have come up with. There’s no lessons, there’s no sex ed, there’s no – biology pages in the majority of the Charedi schools were superglued or stuck together for those sort of lessons, so to speak.”[3]

12. In certain languages, there are no words for rape or sexual abuse, or for sexual organs.[4] Clearly, this can make disclosure difficult from a practical perspective. Ms Vanajah Srinivasan, Director of Abuse Never Becomes Us UK (an organisation that aims to “provide healing and empowerment through holistic support, resources and advocacy on behalf of Tamil people impacted by childhood sexual abuse”), told us that her organisation had “recently put together actual text to describe what [child sexual abuse] is, since there is no actual terminology in the Tamil language”.[5] SBS also told us of an absence of language for many acts of sexual violence in some South Asian languages.[6]

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