Calls for urgent inquiry into sexual abuse of Jewish children in illegal schools

By Siobhan Fenton (UK Indepenent)
April 7, 2016

An investigation by The Independent revealed that a London borough education authority destroyed records of children attending illegal Jewish schools where thousands of children are at risk of physical beatings and sexual abuse

Kol v’Oz,a global organisation dedicated to preventing abuse of Jewish children, has formally written to the UK’s investigations body for child abuse urging action. In a letter to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Chief Executive Manny Waks wrote: “The IICSA notes that it will investigate a wide range of institutions, including those who fall under the category of ‘other religious organisations’. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the IICSA to seriously consider including at least a segment of the Jewish community in its investigations.

“In the past few years there have been numerous reports of troubling incidents within the Jewish community; more specifically, within the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in the UK, including a series of reports by The Independent which note that child sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred in illegal Jewish ultra-Orthodox schools and that authorities turned a blind eye to these schools due, in part, to the fear of being accused of anti-Semitism,” Mr Waks added.

An investigation by The Independent revealed that thousands of Jewish children are missing from full time education records in the London borough of Hackney and are feared to be attending illegal, ultra-strict faith schools. The schools teach only religious scripture and all lessons are in Yiddish; meaning that many children with no qualifications and unable to speak English. Physical beatings and sexual abuse is also alleged to take place at some schools.

A redacted internal memo revealed by The Independent recorded that Hackney’s education authority had initially begun collecting information about the illegal schools but destroyed it after receiving a legal threat from some schools. Department of Education staff have been aware of this since at least 2010 but does not appear to have acted to prevent the destruction of these records.