German Protestant Church starts a forum for victims of sexual abuse.


Central Europe


Anna-Nicole Heinrich, President of the Synod of the EKD, is on the Kompass forum. Photo EKD

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) continues its forum about sexual abuse. This was announced in Hanover on June 1. The purpose of the forum is to give victims a say in church policies about sexual abuse.

The participation forum (called Kompass) will consist of eight voting members who are themselves affected by sexual violence in the church, according to a EKD article. The other nine members include Anna-Nicole Heinrich, President of the Synod of the EKD, and representatives from different institutions. Among them are clergy and lawyers.

In a press release the EKD reports that the newly created forum will deal with "all issues relating to protection against and dealing with sexualized violence in the Protestant Church". In it, church officials and those affected by sexual violence will work together in discussing the issues at hand. Victims will have a say in the decisions of the church on how to deal with cases of abuse. To do this, topic-related working groups are to be set up to deal with subjects like coming to terms with sexualised violence, disciplinary procedures and so-called "recognition services" for victims of abuse, reports the Sonntagsblatt.


An earlier attempt to involve victims of sexual abuse failed when criticism arose about the unequal way their input was treated, compared to the other participants. The advisory committee dissolved last year. Detlev Zander, a spokesperson for those affected, said that the EKD has since relinquished its power and has given up its "sovereignty of interpretation". In the new forum, the victims are not only there to give advice. They actively shape the official drafts on which the EKD councils have to decide. This was reported in a news article of the EPD.

Despite the failure of the earlier victims advisory board, the eight victims represented in the forum said they had decided to "stand up and fight for our rights and the rights of other victims", according to the Sonntagsblatt. President Heinrich finds the participation forum a great opportunity. The new forum no longer has a separate council of commissioners and an advisory board for victims, but the two are now joined together. The President of the EKD Synod said this "would have a binding role in all decisions on dealing with sexual violence", reported EPD.



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