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17 June 2010 @ 07:55 pm
My Karma, My Fault  
That's what they were told to believe about their suffering. "It's just your karma, prabhu."

When they told their stories publicly, some had the nerve again to say, "well it's their karma. I don't have to feel sorry for them."

I'm talking about the students of the gurukula (place of the guru) schools run by the Hare Krsna Movement (International Society for Krsna Consciousness--ISKCON).

There are accounts online, such as this one: http://jaganat.wordpress.com/2006/08/02/gurukula/

By the time Daniel Lutz was in gurukula in the late 80s and early 90s, waves of gurukula scandals had already swept through ISKCON. So it is with horror that I read his accounts of a system which still did not safeguard the welfare of the children or provide any real education. ISKCON had not learned it's lesson after so much suffering had already taken place, much as the Catholic Church passed priests from parish to parish without reporting their criminal behavior. To all of these institutions I would say, "It's the cover-up, stupid." Your organization faces far more damage if you are found later to have hidden the abuse and allowed the abusers to get away with it than if you take swift and decisive action once you know abuse has occurred.

Daniel's compelling page-turner of a book, My Karma My Fault, is a must read for anyone who hears stories about religious abuse of children and wonder how we can protect them while still insuring that their parents have freedom of religion. There should also be freedom from religion, especially when imposed with coercion and force by parents and religious teachers.

This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, reading about the lives of Quiverfull children. Daughters who are pressed into service from a young age as junior mothers and discouraged from starting their own lives while their indentured service is still needed ought to be protected. Children who are severely spanked to the point of death in the name of religion ought to be protected. Children who are denied medical care or a decent education ought to be protected. Deliberately indoctrinating them not to think for themselves (or they'll have betrayed their whole family and God Himself) is abusive even if no other abuse takes place.

Children can't always speak for themselves. If we want to see more balance in how religious practices affecting children are handled legally, we'll have to speak up for them.

ETA: This post by Bhakti Vidyapurna Swami tells you all you need to know about why family relationships in ISKCON are so abnormal.
 
 
 
Christinekisekileia on June 18th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
I agree with you. Religion should not be a legal justification for otherwise illegal practice. The only exception I would make to that is peyote use, and that only because I'm not convinced psychedelic drugs should be illegal.
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on June 18th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
mari concurs.