Mother's Letter to the GBC, 1988
1998 VNN 10/12/1998 - 2350
Abuse Report Falls on Deaf GBC Ears
USA (VNN) - In January 1988 a mother submitted the following letter to ISKCON's Minister of Education. It appears that there was no discussion of any of the subjects raised in this letter in the following GBC meetings that year (1988). The letter was either completely ignored or suppressed. The letter may be seen by some as evidence that ISKCON officials knew about the rampant abuse in many ISKCON schools in early 1988. The complete GBC resolutions of 1988 can be read on the official GBC site or here. (begin letter)
Dear Jagadisha Maharaja,
Please accept my humble obeisance's. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I don't know if you've been told any details about the child molestation here at Gita Nagari. I'd like to report to you in detail what has come out over the last 3 months.
It has all been rather shocking and disappointing to many devotees here but others find It to be the tools to build and rectify to make a better system--until the wrong comes out we can't endeavor to change it.
To begin with in detail: (removed) das Mother (removed) son, has been molesting some of the small children here. My son, (removed) has been the most verbal about what was being done to him. But a total of 5 children are known to have been abused to some degree. Penetration had been attempted and oral sex had been done repeatedly to the degree of seminal discharge into the mouth with a condom. It seems it had all been going on for a year and a half with no one suspecting it. It was very frightening and embarrassing for my son to get it all out but with professional books and a lot reassuring that he was not bad, our son was able to tell a lot of the details about what he had been through.
The real horror of all this, though is that (removed), and other boys, who had been in Vrndavana are now admitting to the extent of how they were abused in the holy dhama by teachers, monitors, etc. And even witnessing a Guru doing it to boys. It seems it had been very rampant and "just a part of life there" You were either forced to engage in it or you observed it around you. Either of which would be very mentally and spiritually debilitating.
I find it very indicative of a very unsound and unsafe system we've allowed in our Gurukulas. That anyone who showed any interest in working with the children was practically given full charge with no checking up on him---what to speak of checking up on his past history.
I would be interested to know of any work being done on protecting our children within this system of Gurukula---I know you have put out the letter about the parents trusting the teacher or don't put them in an ashram. But is there any attempt made at regulating the quality of our gurukula or not letting them run under the name of ISKCON---like a credit system---where parents could know that this Gurukula meets regular standards of qualities of the teachers, academics, and facilities or it can't be credited as an ISKCON SCHOOL.
Also, sometimes we see a teacher working alone especially in the area of ashram, with no checks from other adults---too private of a situation---in light of all the present difficulty we've been having with abuse. I'm sure the ministry of education is many steps ahead of my feeble concerns In the area of improving our schools. I'd like to know what is being done presently and also, submit my ideas to be done with as you see fit. I feel a concern as a parent to want to not see our gurukula die out due to such a contamination attacking. If you don't mind then I'll just submit what I'd like to see done:
All our ISKCON schools have regular checks run on them for:
a)quality of teachers---a written report of past experience and recommendation even before being a devotee and an investigation into their life from past jobs and people who have known them. Call the nation-wide abuse hotline to make sure they have had no known record of abuse. (this is just routine for non-devotee schools)
b) that the schools have adequate facility so the children are not put through undue austerity.
c) that there are proper teacher/student ratios.
d) proper academic standard set by individual states or country or by ISKCON MINISTRY standard.
e) some qualified person be chosen amongst the ministry to dedicate himself to running the regular checks on the schools and making sure they meet the proper standards to be accredited.
I would very much so like to know your ideas in this area or if my ideas are totally impossible.
Also, I have some thoughts about rectifying the damage done to at least the boys I know here at Gita Nagari. I feel like nothing could be too great if it could help them to not take to such criminals acts as child abuse or rape. In dealing with my own 6 year old son and hearing the garbage that has been filled into his mind from sexual assault. I could understand how fortunate I was that he was able to talk about it and have my husband and I put it in proper perspective for him and teach him his rights as a human being.
These boys who were subjected to this abuse from such a young age in Vrndavana and even here at Gita Nagari were never given such a chance---as far as I know. Maybe something had been attempted in Vrndavana as far as educating them or helping them but I think maybe not. In most cases the parents were never informed about what had been going on so they could understand what their children may have been subjected to. I can see that much has happened due to all of our ignorance on the matter of child abuse. But that doesn't nullify the difficult task of trying to at all costs rectify the damage. So I, also, have some ideas of helping these older boys so they might stand a chance at resolving it in their minds.
I think a lot of them have it stuck in their minds and don't even know how to think of it or what to do with it. So they need our help, otherwise they may never know the harm and wrong in what was forced on them and so they may go on to do it to others as we are seeing.
One idea I had was to have Satsvarupa Maharaja, Yourself, Dhanurdhara Maharaja, and Burijana Prahbu try to come and apologize to the boys for what they had been put through under your guidance in Vrndavana. Not that you all are to be condemned but just for the sake of trying to ease their minds about their own guilt (which is a big thing for a rape victim to overcome). I feel very strongly about this from what I've heard in detail-that these boys have been through. Maybe you haven't heard much of what they've been going through. It even helps you to understand why they might be rejecting a lot of the philosophy and see so much as hypocritical. You know, they watch Guru and teacher have illicit sex life in a manner that even dogs wouldn't do and yet they are supposed to chant and think well of the devotees and be respectful on top of all that I think it was a bit much for them to swallow. Please don't feel like I'm criticizing you---I feel like everyone of us are to blame for so much difficulty. Many of the parents have apologized to their children for blindly putting them through this undue suffering and they found it eased them up a lot. So I was thinking that if some of the devotees who were in charge in Vrndavana could also help to rectify the damage, it would have a great effect.
I don't feel materially or spiritually qualified in my judgments so I'm placing them before you for analyzing and rectifying if you see fit.
I hope I have not offended you in having such strong opinions. Please forgive me if I have.
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu has been working with some of the older boys here---finding out details of what they have been through as far as abuse and names of people, also.
(removed) devi dasi
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