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NCJWA stands in support of Manny Waks in his mission to expose child sexual abuse within the Jewish Community. NCJWA acclaims his courage in speaking publicly about his own abuse and the abuse of others in Melbourne’s Yeshiva Centre, and in bringing these matters to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We stand with him and his family, acknowledging that they have been sorely used by those wishing to keep sexual abuse within the Yeshiva Centre secret. NCJWA also regrets that it has been slow to speak out for the victims of the Yeshiva abuse, who we realise would have appreciated our public support much earlier, when this abuse was first exposed.
We agree with Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, that we all have an obligation to report sexual abuse to the police. Sexual abuse of children is a shocking crime and should never be ignored or dealt with “in house”. There is no doubt that if the police had been involved decades ago when sexual abuse was first reported to rabbis within the Yeshiva Centre, many victims would have been spared. However the perpetrators named by Manny Waks continued to work for the Yeshivah Centre long after allegations were first made, and they continued to abuse numerous children over many years.
It is generally accepted that one in every three or four girls, and five or six boys have been sexually abused. This number increases where institutions are closed and authoritarian, and where processes are not transparent and accountable. There needs to be greater awareness and community education about sexual abuse, as well as independent systems for monitoring for abuse. To the extent that these are not in place, Jewish institutions can assume that child sexual abuse will be taking place within their walls.