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NYC Fights Sexual Abuse in Orthodox Jewish Communities


Sexual abuse is one of those problems — if acknowledged — Orthodox Jews tend to hush and handle in religious courts, which apparently exist. Stigma, shame, cultural isolation, and the more obvious fear that revelations will hurt future marriage prospects ensure secrets stay in the streets of ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods.

But New York City has ambitious plans to change that. The city is setting up an outreach program, which includes prosecutors visiting synagogues and a hotline called Kol Tzedek, meaning "voice of justice" in Hebrew. The voice of justice on the line will be a "culturally sensitive" social worker, who will allow callers to remain anonymous until they're ready to come forward. When and if that happens, victims can meet with social workers and lawyers who specialize in sex crimes.

The chief of Brooklyn's sex crimes bureau told the New York Times "there is a climate of change" in the ultrasecretive community. Maybe so — the number of current cases in Brooklyn is up to 19 from not enough to count in years past.

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