mage67 (mage67) wrote,

Sex Abuse Case Shocks Amish Community

Click here for the article

This article kind of got to me. It was more than bad enough that this girl's brothers raped her so often. However, the article doesn't make a lot of points clear enough.

1. That an Amish woman is taught nothing about sex within her own community. Therefore, she didn't even have the words or the concepts to describe properly what was happening to her. She could only say that something bad was happening to her. No one sympathized with her plight.

2. That according to Amish tradition, such matters have to be handled entirely by the church. The boys were merely estranged from the church for up to six months after they confessed to the church elders. They also had to make public confessions. After that, Amish tradition demands that everyone in the community forgive and forget it. Not only was this an exceedingly light sentence, but if anyone objected, they would be estranged from the community as if they committed a wrong. During such a sentence, the boys were not confined in any way or had their freedoms limited in any other way.

3. That everyone in the Amish community cried for the boys being convicted, but as the judge pointed out, "No one was crying for the victim". In the Amish community's eyes, the girl committed the wrong by not forgiving and forgetting and for getting outside authorities involved. Now she is permanently ostracized from her community, a punishment worse than the Amish community handed out to the boys.

4. The boys readily confessed when they were asked. The Amish believe in telling the truth at all times, so the boys felt they had to say what happened to authorities when they were asked. They and the Amish belived they were already properly punished, so they also felt that it was improper to punish them.

5. That in the church, such crimes are given similar weight to the sin of drinking alcohol or forsaking the sabbath. The way their church handles crimes has little sense of proportion.

Even after all this, the Amish community just didn't and still doesn't fathom what they did wrong here. They genuinely feel like victims of the system, even though it seems to defy our logic. That means that unless the law is informed, this can keep happening there to others.

There doesn't seem to be any solution in the Amish community. Ideally, the church should be informing authorities when they hear about a criminal case. However a confession is confidential and the penance the boys paid to the church was considered enough. Church elders should be telling confessors when to go to the police and turn themselves in, but they will never do that. I think that while a confessional can be respected, the church elders should be required to inform their "sinners" when they broke the law and have to turn themselves in to law authorities. Most other churches do this at least.

It just gets to me when a system acts in such a way that the result is that it punishes the victim instead of criminals.

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