In an emotional speech to her classmates, a schoolgirl who left the Jehovah’s Witnesses exposed the organization’s cover-up of abuse and sexual violence inflicted on women and its effort to silence the victims, the Independent reports.
The girl recalled her own experience with the church and recounted the stories of three women who were abused and sexually assaulted by men in the church. All these crimes were covered up by the leadership of organization and the victims were silenced or shunned from the community, she said.
Holding back tears, the girl told her classmates she was taught that every one outside the church, including her father, would be sent to Armageddon.
Women, as she recalled, were at the bottom of the hierarchy in the organization and were considered inferior to men. Not only were they not allowed to teach men or speak publicly, but they must also obey men without question.
“They are not to question any decision made by a man,” she said. “That is slander.”
The church excommunicates whoever dissents from its orthodox doctrine or questions its practice. It discourages independent thought, which is considered to be from Satan.
The most disturbing revelation came from the stories of three women, whom the girl personally knew. The three women, all of whom remained anonymous, were abused or raped by male members of the church. After they reported to the elders of the church, they were blamed for the violence against them and excommunicated or threatened to.
One of them was a mother of two. After years of abuse by her husband, she finally got a divorce. The elders of the church, who turned away from her when she went to them for help, forbid her to see her children after the divorce and left the children to be raised by her abusing husband who was a devoted Jehovah’s Witness.
“To make matters worse her children were taught not to speak to her because she was evil, they were isolated by her ex-husband and know nothing other than this religion. They are also terrified of disappointing their father and their god,” the girl said.
Another woman who was raped was told by the church elders that she was raped because her job put her near men and she dressed inappropriately. To avoid being “disfellowshipped,” she had to drop the charges against her attacker, quit her job and dress more conservatively.
The girl concluded her speech by saying that she and her mother had left the organization at a price — they had been shunned by the community they used to be part of.
However, she was convinced that leaving the church was a right decision.
“It is a religion that preaches love and acceptance, but the reality is everything is conditional. Love and acceptance is only extended as long as members practice absolute obedience and question nothing, ever,” she said.
“This religion destroys lives, destroys families and they do it largely unchecked,” she continued. “No one knows because they are really good at silencing the people who leave.”
Watch the YouTube video of the speech below.