Recent reports of cases of sexual violence that have taken place in churches in France since 1950 shocked the French public.
Over the past period, 216,000 children have become victims of sexual abuse by clergy in French churches. Moreover, if we also add cases of sexual violence by employees of private schools and institutions associated with the Catholic Church, then this figure reaches 330 thousand.
According to a report released by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in Churches (CIASE), 15,000 adults have been sexually assaulted in churches over the past 70 years, including 35,000 in church-related settings.
One of the victims of sexual assault by a French priest, Laurence Poujade, spoke with Anadolu’s agency “about her case of violence and the impact this incident had on her entire future life.
Pujad, the 55-year-old head of the Sentinelle, an association dedicated to sexual abuse in churches, said she was sexually assaulted by a priest 25 years ago on a trip to Guinea with a religious foundation and a French priest.
According to the woman, at the time of the incident she was 30 years old.
“(The incident) had serious consequences. The (Christian) community demanded that I stop all contact with my family and not talk about what happened. But my family understood everything, because (on my body) there were signs of violence, they saw bruises. I could not speak freely about the reason for their appearance, ”the woman recalls.
Pujad said that she was able to speak (about this incident) only six years after the incident.
On the basis of the incident, the woman developed psychological problems.
Many parents do not even realize that their adult children are being abused in (Christian) religious communities, she said.
Commenting on a report released by the Independent Commission on Sexual Violence in Churches, Poujad described the figures as “alarming” and “shocking”.
“This caused a tsunami effect. It was a shock. And these are only approximate figures. In fact, the numbers can be much higher, since there are those who have already passed away or are simply silent. The fact that we managed to obtain these indicators is of great importance. The report became the reason that all these anonymous lives went down in history. We are experiencing a historic moment as the report focuses on the responsibility of the church, ”said Pujad.
At the same time, the woman pointed out that the main question that interests everyone now is whether the church will take responsibility.
“These figures show the scale of the incidents, and that there is a system in place to allow (sexual) violence and not listen to the victims,” said Pujad.