The Mennonite mass rapes

I hate to follow one horrifyingly depressing rape story with another, but this needs to be shared. File this one away in “Proof Religion Doesn’t Automatically Make You a Good Person.” If you can find room, that is (emphasis mine):

Wall is among 130 women and girls of the Mennonite colony in Manitoba Colony, who claim that from 2005 to ’09, the same cloudy horror visited them. They’re the victims of what is allegedly one of the ugliest sex scandals in the history of the Mennonites, a pacifist Christian Anabaptist denomination founded in Europe in the 1500s, if not Bolivia and South America. In a criminal trial now under way in nearby Santa Cruz, Peter Weiber, 48, a Mennonite veterinarian, is accused of transforming a chemical meant to anesthetize cows into a spray to be used on humans. For four years, Weiber and eight other Mennonite men allegedly sprayed the chemical through bedroom windows in Manitoba at night, sedating entire families and raping the females. One of the men is a fugitive, the others have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, each faces a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

The criminal charges detail depraved acts few would expect inside a supposedly upright sect like the Mennonites. “When there were no grown women” in the houses that the men allegedly targeted, says Wilfredo Mariscal, an attorney for the victims, “they did what they wanted with the kids.” Court-ordered medical exams reveal a 3-year-old girl with a broken hymen (most likely, doctors note, from finger and not penis penetration). The formal indictments list victims ages 8 to 60 years old, including one who is mentally retarded and another who was pregnant and sent into premature labor after allegedly being raped by one of the men — her brother.

If you can stomach it, the whole article is worth the read. It goes more in depth with how the women in the Mennonite community are completely isolated from the world through various patriarchal rules, and how the men on trial for the rapes have been spending the trial goofing off, laughing, and falling asleep.

…Can I ragequit humanity yet?


  1. Josh says

    “Then there’s the stigma. Out of shame, many of the women no longer attend church, the colony’s only real social space; the younger among them say they fear they are “stained” and will never be able to marry.”Ugh. All the sadness here – not only have they been horribly violated (for years!), but they’re outcast because of it. Why in the hell are rape victims always the one that have their reputations destroyed?What a terrible situation.

  2. Paul Lundgren says

    That’s so beyond horrifying, I’m tingling.  I hope they get solitary confinement for life.

  3. April says

    I’m gagging with the horror that these women and girls have been made to feel LIKE SINNERS. Fuck you, Church.

  4. says

    This disgusting culture of victim-shaming makes me almost as angry as the rapes themselves. After a rape, a victim needs counselling, support, and a way to find closure. That it is being denied to them because of deliberate isolation and some antiquated ideas regarding sexuality and morality  makes me reel.

  5. Stephen Goeman says

    Hear hear! For those college kids who regular blag hag, there is a lot we can do to help survivors– RAINN has a whole arsenal of ways college individuals and organizations can help those who have suffered the unimaginable. Posting a link here for those who may be interested, as sexual assault is NOT going away and what makes atheists so great is their willingness to get involved :)

  6. Drakk says

    “The criminal charges detail depraved acts few would expect…”I’m sorry, we have enough points to form a goddamn correlation coefficient. This is completely expected.

  7. KarlVonMox says

    I’ve been in a ragequit humanity mood myself lately. If you watch the news everyday, there isnt one where you dont hear about slaughter, murder, rape or genocide being committed in every corner of the earth. How people like us are the same species as people who are able to commit these acts is beyond me. Humans are nasty, selfish, greedy, violent primates – we are no better than chimpanzees. Not surprising since we share 98% of our genomes, except unlike them we can make nuclear weapons. And remember, most people believe that some  perfect Big Brother celestial entity created this world in his infinite wisdom, and that events like this are just part of His Special Divine Plan. The ignorance, the stupidity, the evil that humanity produces gets to me sometimes. Yeah, I’ll be drinking heavily too.

  8. Eric RoM says

    I hope the forensics are enough to put away those bastards.  Forensics are much more predictable than testimony.

  9. Richelle McCullough- says

    I’m Manitoban and half Mennonite, and I would just like to point out that this article is regarding an ultra-conservative Mennonite colony in Bolivia. The colony just happens to be named the Manitoba colony for some reason. In Manitoba, the majority of Mennonites (not all) live in the community and the women are free to (mostly) do as they please. That being said, one of my best friends married into a strongly conservative Mennonite church. I was one of her bridesmaids, and she had to sit me down before the ceremony because part of their vows was based on the wife serving the man, man serving God thing that is so universally reviled by feminists. She knew I disagreed, but it was her wedding, and I appreciated that she had the presence of mind to warn me it was coming beforehand, but it still enrages and saddens me to think about it.I also do know men who are colony Mennonites, and although their wives and daughters are frequently with them, I do not know their names, nor have they ever spoken to me outside of a purchase. The girls and women cannot do basic math to give change, and I’m talking the easy stuff, because I’m pretty crappy at math myself. None of this is as bad as the rape and abuse of the girls and women described in the article, but it’s this sort of systematic, institutionalized oppression of my gender that truly gets to me. How can we have this utter disparity between higher education, where women in most programs outnumber or are equal to the men, and yet our sisters and cousins just a few kilometres away are stuck in the dark ages, uneducated, unvalued, unimportant in any practical way. I was discussing this with my mother not too long ago (full Mennonite by heritage, not in practice), and we likened the Mennonite community’s opinion of women to that of the farm dogs. They’re useful around the farm, they help put food on the table, they help raise the next generation, and they’re better when they’re not yapping. It’s not that the men don’t love the women, they just love them in a condescending, paternalistic way, like you would love your favourite pair of shoes, or a good hair cut. Regardless of how badly, or relatively well, they behave, the entire problem stems from the Biblical teachings that women are of no intrinsic value.  “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24

  10. BCskeptic says

    Absolutely digusting fuckers.  It sickens me to imagine what horror those women went through.  Psychotic sickos are everywhere and in all walks of life…watch your loved ones like hawks.  I think I would explode into bits if something like this happened to the women I love.  I hope they get put away in itsy-bitsy jail cells like that Bernardo monster for the rest of their pathetic lives.A suggestion: everyone reading this make a donation to a women’s help organization.  And, be determined not to let something like this happen to any woman/child you know.

  11. Richelle McCullough- says

    The worst part is that these women are suffering for it, that THEY have been shunned as unclean and used up. It’s absolutely disgusting and goes to show that it doesn’t matter what you wear or how modestly you behave – rape is rape, and no one ever deserves it.

  12. Blitzgal says

    The article also indicates that these women have been blocked from seeking therapy — one woman is quoted as saying she would have to learn Spanish before she could find a therapist.  And yet the men in this community think that because the women were unconscious they cannot possibly be traumatized.  What?!  They were taken advantage of when they were at their most vulnerable.  That has to have destroyed their trust.  One woman said she still can’t sleep at night.These kinds of insular, ultra conservative communities, regardless of their religion, are poison.  That’s all there is to it.

  13. says

    It’s actually hard to give definitive answers to rapes particularly if the women have been delayed from seeking prosecution. Ideally 6 hours (no really…) to 4 days is the best. After that the evidence deteriorates and the quality just drops and any solid lawyer can cast reasonable doubt. The issue with rape is getting women to realise that while the stigma is awful and that they aren’t in the best place in the world after one… that they have to show up to be subject to a rape evidence check so that we can have the evidence which puts these dicks away. It’s heartbreaking to sit in with my gynae tutor as they do a rape test on a woman after 4 days knowing that there is a good chance that a competent lawyer can tear apart your evidence. All that goes through your mind is “if only they came in earlier. If only they were not scared. If only the stigma of rape was aimed at rapists not the people raped.It’s harder than it looks mate, it really is. And it doesn’t help that there are actual people who abuse the system for “whatever purpose”. Fingers crossed they will get what’s coming to them.

  14. says

    After this post, the last one, and some I’ve seen on Pharyngula and elsewhere, there are no words.  Its a fucking miracle that women haven’t, en masse, moved away and left the straight dudes to cannablize themselves. If you do go, can you take us gay boys with you?

  15. says

    At the very least, I am insulted that only being a religious community shields them from expectations of mass rape & druggings. Hello, this is inhuman! Who do you expect this behavior from?

  16. Blaz says

    I can understand how all that would make you depressed, but keep in mind the news makes things look worse that they actually are because they selectively report the worst things that happen.I also don’t think humanity as a whole is any worse than other species, we may well be more ethical. For example there are human animal right’s activists, but no animal “human rights” activists. The trick is that we are more powerful, so those of us who are immoral can do greater harm than any single animal ever could.

  17. Christine Vyrnon says

    Back in the early ’80s my family used to drive up over the Canadian border to go to church in the Manitoba Mennonite community.  Hmmm.  This is sick, sick, sick.  And despite this fundie-plagued rape-fest, the people of the church we attended were some of the kindest Christians we ever met.  And yes… the women all wear dresses and head coverings and the men are all bearded. .. but many drive cars.  Regardless of their kindness in the past, you couldn’t pay me to live the life of those women and children. My heart goes out to the victims.

  18. revalator says

    Have you hugged a future potential sociopath today?   Compassionate intervention and *real* wisdom (not mysoginist hierachial brainwashing) saves lives…

  19. Erp says

    I’ve done a bit of searching on the web, and, I fear that the story we are getting isn’t all that is there.   To be exact though the men accused may or may not be guilty of rape (they probably are though not I suspect by using a gas), I highly doubt they are the only men in the community guilty of rape but are instead the scapegoats.  The initial story broke in June 2009 with arrests of 7 men.  In September 2009 a man in the community accused of being one of the rapists, died a few days after being hung by the arms for 9 hours  (Guardian article) and the community also held the other accused men for several days before calling the police (another Guardian article) so I wonder how uncoerced their confessions are.  Even more interesting and scary if accurate (something always to be kept in mind) is reading a report from a Mennonite (of a somewhat more liberal variety) which is included in blog post.    He notes the colony was most firm on renouncing outside aid for the women even from other Mennonites, that problems have been rumored for decades, and that the colony is probably wealthy enough [good farmers, nothing spent on ‘luxuries’] to influence the local court system.The women are so isolated, not permitted to learn simple arithmetic or have any formal education beyond age 12, not learning Spanish (the colony speaks Plautdietsch a form of low German that is spoken only by some Mennonites and split from the rest of low German about 1750 when most of the ancestors of these Mennonites moved to Russia), rarely or never leaving the colony (except to go to another colony or in a group to form a new colony), having no official power in the colony, expected to marry young and produce children.

  20. Jared says

    I know this is terribly low expectations on my part, but I was pleased to see that they appear to have immediately turned the perpetrators over to the police rather than relying on internal church discipline (as I expected).

  21. Shush388 says

    1) I imagine the husbands and fathers of the women who were raped were pretty ticked. Their wives/daughters are, after all, their chattel and not for anyone else to use without permission. Even if those perps get off, they’re not going to have particularly good relationships with their neighbors any more.2) This presents the perfect opportunity to recruit the female victims to the side of non-believers! Get out of your loathesome colony AND shed your guilt! Live on the outside with all the  equal opportunity rapists!

  22. Aardvark Cheeselog says

    This story is ringing my BS detector. I would expect some dead people any time somebody tried to use an aerosol anesthetic to knock out an entire household.

  23. Shush388 says

    This is very true! Anesthesiology is a pretty tricky thing to get right! Perhaps they weren’t asleep, just amnestic for the events? A light degree of anesthesia might produce that effect, but something does smell fishy about this story now that you mention it!

  24. Arturo says

    Hi. I am doing a research about the sexual abuses in Manitoba Bolivia. Can I have you email to ask you a few questions.

    Thank you. Have a great and productive day.

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