Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Helpline of Least Resistance

Guest post by “Pen Tivakesh”
The so-called “unfortunate” Channel 4 Dispatches programme is about to hit the airwaves, and the UOHC has done it again. It has laid bare its wares and showcased its blatant disregard for anything but the safeguarding of its own precarious existence. Nothing is more indicative of this than Rav Padwa’s characteristically myopic and blinkered response which is bound to spread further the rot decaying the UOHC’s rickety construction.
Rav Padwa: if it is indeed so important to you that our children are protected from harm, where on God’s earth have you been hitherto? Why have you to date cared so little for the pain and suffering of children and of victims of child abuse? Why have you shown them the door on numerous occasions citing their inadmissibility as witnesses owing to your own dark-age interpretation of Halacha? If child protection is indeed so important to you, why do you still allow school teachers to beat their charges black and blue at the schools on your patch? This is what is most unfortunate.
It is unfortunate that you address this letter neither to victims nor their families, but to your cronies - rabbis and educators. It is unfortunate that you imply that there is, and that there has been for quite a while, a ‘special committee’ that actively pursues and investigates cases of child abuse. Yet your UOHC calendar which markets your products and services has never seen fit to publish the existence, let alone the number, of this so-called ‘special committee’. This mysterious ‘special committee’ of yours has somehow evaded the attention of the multitude of victims and their families.
It is unfortunate is that you have sought to silence victims, as will become evident in the Dispatches programme. Is it not the case that you have acted in the same fashion on several other occasions, as some have had the misfortune to witness? And now your letter has the stated aim of silencing them once more. Just not only victims this time, but also those questioning your abysmal record in dealing with child protection.
You acknowledge that there are certain instances in which it would be permissible to contact law enforcement. So let me challenge you to cite a single case where this has actually happened during your time at the helm of this sinking ship.
It is most unfortunate that, through your spokesman, you have instead compounded the pain of one alleged victim by casting doubt on his credibility. Is it not true that a number of other victims at the hands of this alleged perpetrator have been brought before you? And is it not the case that you have done nothing substantial to assist these people who are suffering indescribable pain?
It is unfortunate that in contrast to the London Beth Din, you have not mentioned any advisor - or ‘experts’, as you prefer to call them - by name. We know nothing of those who will be manning this helpline and what regard they have for our well-being rather than yours. Yet you ask that we abide by your request that those with concerns about child abuse contact this anonymous, hitherto unknown ‘special committee’.  Let me tell you this: after the ineptitude we have seen from your office over the last few months do not expect us to fall for this hook, helpline and sinker.
What is most certainly not unfortunate is that there is an attempt by Channel 4 to bring this grave problem to the fore.
It is in fact extremely fortunate, that you are now forced to consider these issues. It is fortunate that unlike the UOHC, the London Beth Din have issued a halachic ruling advising not just rabbis and educators but all of us, including those you hold in contempt, to contact the police in the very first instance of abuse and to inform their named Child Protection Officer.
It is fortunate, that your membership have been using the London Beth Din for litigation and arbitration for years and are now flocking to them for their foodstuffs too. We are no longer dependent upon your dinosaurian attitude towards such serious matters and, thankfully, we now have elsewhere to turn.
You may hope, Rav Padwa, that this UOHC Child Protection Line of yours receives not a single call. You may hope that your letter is seen by your membership for the mere lip-service which it really is. Frankly, so do I.