Group Established to Combat Faith-Based Child Abuse

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A general incorporated association that is dedicated to combating child abuse stemming from religious beliefs has been established. Those born into religious families announced its founding in Tokyo on Saturday. The association, Snowdrop, is based in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward and primarily consists of those who experienced childhood abuse, including being coerced into adhering to their parents’ religious doctrines, regardless of their own will. Its members aim to prevent such abuses rooted in religion by actively collaborating with child consultation centers, schools and other parties concerned.

The association is headed by a woman in her 30s who has been vocal in the Diet about the suffering she endured as a third-generation follower of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Members include second-generation followers of the Unification Church, officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, as well as Yuri Inose, a professor of sociology of religion at Ryukoku University. A lawyer who has been working to help victims of so-called spiritual sales is also a member.

The association’s leader said that she used to be whipped by her parents throughout her childhood, with no one to turn to for support. Such experiences led her to establish the association with the aim of assisting individuals facing similar circumstances.

“Being born into a religious family, I endured silent suffering. I want to foster a society that can detect and acknowledge this pain,” the woman said during a press conference held in Tokyo on Saturday.

The association will provide consultation services to children from religious households and offer guidance to educators and child consultation centers. Additionally, the association aims to raise awareness by promoting a list of child abuse scenarios that may occur in religious homes, which was compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in December of last year.

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