17 Dec 2011

Netherlands report highlights child sex abuse

3:38 pm on 17 December 2011

A new report in the Netherlands says tens of thousands of children have suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions since 1945.

The report by an independent commission says church officials have failed to tackle the widespread abuse at schools, seminaries and orphanages.

It estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 minors were abuse in the care of Catholic institutions between 1945 and 1981 - when the number the of Church-run homes dropped.

Between 1981 and 2011, it finds, several more thousands suffered at the hands of priests and others working for the Church.

Most of the cases involved mild to moderate abuse, such as touching, but the report estimated there have been several thousand instances of rape.

But it also finds that one in five children who attended an institution suffered abuse, regardless of whether it was Catholic.

The commission's inquiry was triggered by allegations of abuse at a Catholic school in the east Netherlands, which prompted other alleged victims to come forward.

The BBC reports that the findings had been keenly awaited by the Dutch population, 29% of whom identify as Catholic.

In the course of its investigation the commission studied 1,800 complaints of abuse at Catholic institutions, identifying 800 alleged perpetrators, just over 100 of whom are still alive.

It also conducted a broader survey of more than 34,000 people to gain a more comprehensive picture of the scale and nature of abuse suffered by Dutch minors.