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German Authorities Turn a Blind Eye to Child Sexual Abuse

© Flickr / Ren RebadomiaTerror children
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The latest pedophilia scandal involving the Berlin Senate shows that the topic of child abuse remains very urgent. At the same time, the lack of interest among politicians and unwillingness of authorities to undertake concrete actions poses a serious obstacle to the resolution of this complex problem.

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A recent study revealed that in the 1970s, the Berlin Senate had financed a project in which homeless teens were deliberately sent to pedophile men who were employed as their foster fathers and took care of them.

In particular, the researchers found links to the Odenwald School, a boarding school where the Berlin Senate sent underage boys, many of whom are assumed to have later become subject to sexual abuse.

The Senate is now set to investigate the issue, but so far no concrete steps have been made.

"This is not an issue of the past," said Christine Bergmann, former Minister for Family Affairs and now a member of the Independent Commission on Sexual Child Abuse.

The Commission, which was founded about a year ago, deals with all forms of sexual abuse of children in Germany. However, Norbert Denef, head of Network of Victims of Sexual Violence who himself was sexually abused when he was a child, said that the Commission lacks the power and political will to conduct a proper inquiry.

"The concealment of abuse scandals is systematic and there is a lack of political will to really work it all out," Denef told Sputnik Germany. "This commission is politically authorized only to listen to the victims' stories, it doesn't actually work on them," he stated.

Denef himself has already had experience with the work of the Commission. The Commission refused to take his case, when he requested permission to record the proceedings. Its members said that they were further interested in his story, but recording of any conversation is not permitted.

Denef is annoyed about the unwillingness or inability of the Commission to take concrete steps toward solving the cases of child abuse in Germany.

"We have always been listening to stories over the last six years. The therapeutic world has been listening to such stories for decades. This is, from our point of view, a restraining tactic, according to which they again "only" listen," Denef argued, adding that "something is being done, but nothing actually happens."

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One of the main problems, according to Denef, could be the fact that the Commission is actually powerless to solve such cases. It doesn't receive access to many relevant files. Moreover, there are also problems with financing.

According to preliminary data, the Commission will have around 1.4 million euro available by 2019. With this money, it can hold only about 500 hearings, which won't be enough given the fact that some 415 people have already applied for a confidential hearing.

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