Netherland Churches Use Castration to Deter Victims from Reporting Sexual Abuse

At this time, I am sure the international community is only too painfully aware of the allegations of sexual abuse that are plaguing the Catholic Church on a global level. Although this information has only been public for the last five to ten years, the problem extends back far beyond that. There are several reasons why these incidents of sexual abuse have taken so long to come to the surface, but this post will only focus on one of those reasons as demonstrated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

In a recent New York Times article, Stephen Castle talks about how the churches in the Netherlands have used castrations as a way of hiding allegations of sexual abuse. It is important to note that these castrations are not of the priests who allegedly did the abuse, but rather of the people who reported the abuse. Specifically, in the case mentioned in the article, when the victim reported his abuse to the police he was sent to a Catholic Psychiatric Hospital. Soon after, he was sent to another hospital where he was castrated for speaking out.  Despite all of this, ironically the priest who was accused of molesting the victim was investigated but no charges were brought. Sadly, this is not the only case as there are at least ten other reported cases in the past few years and who knows how many have gone unreported.

Setting aside the fact that the molester got away unscathed, the international community should be appalled by these allegation. Trying to hide allegations is one thing, though certainly unethical, but going to such a dramatic and brutal extent to deter and punish people who speak out against sexual abuse is beyond unethical: it as atrocious. Granted, there are only a few allegations of such practices occurring, but considering the extent of the injuries and the nature of the abuse this is something the international community really needs to take a strong stand on.

6 comments

  1. Whether used to silence the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergymen or “treat homosexuality,” castration is completely and utterly inappropriate. As such, the Dutch Catholic Church is in for a long road ahead.

    According to other commentators, the Deetman Commission, which was “unable to reach any conclusions” with respect to these castration cases, was a church-installed commission of inquiry. Interestingly, Mr. Deetman’s party, the Christian Democrats, is a composite of the Catholic People’s Party and Protestant parties. Because of this apparent conflict of Mr. Deetman’s interests in the investigation, Dutch lawmakers are calling for an impartial inquiry by way of parliamentary hearing to examine how these cases have been found to be inconclusive and unfounded.

    More terrifying to read is that the alleged abuser of Mr. Heithuis started a home for boys in Nova Scotia. Could this be, “Sandusky, The Sequel?”

  2. As Matt noted, there are only a few cases of this practice taking place, but even one occurrence is too much. What a disgusting thing to do. I’m curious how these individuals consented to having the procedure done; its certainly not something that can be done while someone is asleep.

  3. I do not understand how something like this could even occur with this past few decades in any civilized country. This seems like it would be an ancient method of torture, and certainly not one that has been used as punishment for anything in the recent past. How do they get the patients to cooperate? What is stopping the castrated patients from speaking out, or escaping after the procedures? Perhaps they are scared for their lives, and this would be rightfully so. At least this has finally been publicized, and hopefully now that others are aware of this torture, it will cease to happen again.

  4. These allegations are, indeed, appalling, as were the allegations against Catholic priests who were abusing children here in the U.S. I’m not even sure how to respond to this post, besides to say that something must be done to prevent or AT LEAST make this type of abuse reportable. It seems to me that people are too frightened (or is it something else?) to report religious leaders for this type of abuse. One way to prevent it is to keep children away from all priests – perhaps the church should require that those who serve as altar boys be of a certain age (like 18) so that this type of thing does not happen in the future. This solution is far from perfect and certainly doesn’t truly address the issue, but at least our children would be kept safe.

  5. Wow. I am in shock. This is horrifying and hard to believe. This is even worse than a coverup but its actually retaliation against the person who spoke out about being molested. Retaliation against victims of sexual assaults should never be tolerated, especially not retaliation of this nature. And the fact that it was done in a hospital – which presumably means that it was acceptable with the institution only compounds the feelings of horror that I have towards this whole subject. Not only is is retaliation against a victim but very inhumane retaliation. And in the Netherlands of all places.

    The victim was wronged by so many societal institutions – the church, the police and the hospital. This should be addressed in as harsh a manner as possible and the abuse and coverups of the church needs to stop and at the same time, victims need to be able to come forward and feel safe, not fear that the institutions that are there to protect them may do them even further harm.

  6. Sad to say, this story received minimal press. I think a lot people have tried to move on from the Catholic Church scandal too quickly. Largely, because it is too difficult to believe. The Netherlands story is one of the most untold of and surprising scenario. Why would a church want to punish its own victims is beyond comprehension? There should be some type of punishment for the church. Personally, I believe that institutions will only react if they are sued. Only if dollar signs are placed in front of people will change occur. It is a sad reality, but I believe unless some form of larger financial retribution is taken, the appropriate protections for children will not be provided.

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