Jan 12, 2020

'Free game for cults': hotline disappears despite record number of phone calls

The farm in Ruinerwold. © ANP
Sects are in danger of disappearing under the radar. While the number of reports from concerned family members of potential victims rose to a record high last year, the Sektes signal reporting point disappeared. "This is absurd. Politics must stop looking away, "says professor Fokko Oldenhuis.

Sander van Mersbergen
January 6, 2020

[Google Translation]

Last year, 103 worried phone calls arrived at SektesIGN, which belonged to the same organization as Meld Misdaad Anoniem. That is a lot more than the years before, when serious reports were made every year between the sixties and eighties.

A striking number of phone calls were about mindfulness and happiness courses, which eventually degenerated into sexual and / or financial abuse of the participants. This often concerns women around 30, says Karin Krijnen, spokesperson for the organization that has since disappeared.

The task of Sektes signal was to bring serious signals to the attention of the right authorities. The hotline ceased to exist on 1 January, because the House of Representatives decided a few years ago to stop the subsidy. There will be no successor.

Just last year and in 2018, however, many  alarming signals about possible cults surfaced  . Such as ayahuasca healings in  Eersel  and  IJzendijke , where two people died. Reports of this kind of healings were regularly received by Sektesignal. A father was also found in Ruinerwold in Drenthe who had lived with his children for years in the basement of a farm. This  Gerrit Jan van D.  built a secret 'spiritual center' there.

To care

Experts are therefore worried. "You need an agency that monitors these kinds of movements, and rings the bell if things go wrong," says Fokko Oldenhuis, honorary professor of Religion and Law in Groningen. ,, It is absurd that there is no longer a hotline. Such an organization should actually play a greater role. Politics must take measures and stop looking away. "

Victims of sects and their relatives now have access to, for example, the police. "But if you report that people are isolated or that we think they are in control, they can't do much with that," says Krijnen. "An abuse is something other than an offense."

In order to ensure that the knowledge gained does not disappear completely, the hotline transfers a list of over 150 possible sects, including information about leaders, victims and the nature of the movement, to the Ministry of Justice and Security.

In a response, the ministry reports that the disappearance of the reporting point can be accommodated. "The files from Sektesignal show that the current set of instruments of the police, enforcers and supervisors is sufficient to effectively deal with abuses within sects."


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