The Hong Kong Christian Council, a protestant ecumenical organization, has released a major report exposing a rampant sex abuse problem in local churches, with victims sometimes being told to be obedient and follow “God’s plan” as part of cover-up efforts.
The report, released on Sunday, found that between August 2017 and April 2018 there were 55 reported incidents of sexual harassment or abuse in churches.
One in five of the cases involved rape or attempted rape, according to a translation by South China Morning Post. Other crimes, sometimes allegedly carried out by pastors, involved unwelcome touching, sexual gestures, or emails and messages with sexual implications.
Five in-depth interviews were conducted, with one woman, who wasn’t named, saying that a mentor in the church had attempted to rape her, and continued to sexually harass her afterward.
Some men also said they suffered sexual targeting, including one male who says that he was harassed by a male supervisor at a Christian organization, who offered him massages and wanted him to stay in the same room during a trip.
Jessica Tso Hiu-tung, council assistant executive secretary, explained that many times victims’ stories go unheard, because of the tight-knit nature of churches.