Campaigners for Jewish victims of sexual abuse have welcomed changes to child abuse laws announced in Parliament this week.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill closes a legal loophole under so-called position of trust laws, to cover religious leaders.
The law, which already applied to teachers and doctors, makes sexual relationships between people in these roles, and those they supervise, illegal.
“The move follows an extensive review which raised concerns that predators could exploit the particular influence these roles can often have in a young person’s life – making them vulnerable to abuse”, the government’s website says.
The move to extend the law to religious leaders was welcomed by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who said: “Sadly, wherever relationships of trust exist, there follows the danger for those relationships to be exploited in the most destructive way. Nothing could be more vital than keeping young people in our communities safe and the closing of this loophole, as recommended by the Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse, sends an important message in that regard.”
Reform Judaism welcomed the move, with Rabbi Celia Surget, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors UK, saying: “We are absolutely in support of the widening of the laws outlined in this new legislation”.
“We welcome it wholeheartedly and look forward to seeing its implementation at the earliest possible time”.
This comes after the government stepped in last week to protect victims of religious divorce, trapped by abusive husbands who refuse to grant a ‘get.’
Yehudis Goldsobel, who in 2013 established Migdal Emunah, a charity that supports victims of sexual abuse, backed the “exciting and welcome change to legislation. Over the years I have had the privilege to work with colleagues from other faiths in advocating for more robust safeguarding in faith and religious organisations.”
This is a first step towards better safeguarding standards and I look forward to further recommendations being implemented in the near future. I am optimistic to see the recommendations from IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) in their final report.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.