The price of silence

Jonathan Turley provides an update on the suppression of sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York City that I wrote about earlier.

Four men are accused of offering a bribe of $500,000 to a woman and her boyfriend, plus other inducements and threats, in order to persuade them to not give evidence against a Hassidic leader who is charged with 88 counts of sexual misconduct, including with minors.

When I observe that the elders in the Orthodox Jewish community, like the hierarchy in the Catholic Church and the Boys Scouts, sought to hush things up rather than seek justice for the victims, I wonder if there is something about male-dominated groups that tends to produce this kind of warped attitudes. The sex abuse case involving Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is another example of a male-dominated environment that seemed to cause people to act as if the abuse was either not going on or was not that big a deal or tried to keep it quiet.

Is there the equivalent of this kind of attitude in female-dominated groups? There are fewer such groups to use as case studies but the gripping 2002 film The Magdalene Sisters (based on a true story, trailer below) revealed the abuse of young girls by nuns in a convent, so we know that it does happen. But does it happen to the same extent?


  1. jamessweet says

    It’s hard to measure, since most groups period are male-dominated still.

    I would imagine there would be at least some correlation, though with the causality stemming from a third factor, in that groups with a rigid uncompromising circle-the-wagons mentality are going to be both a) more likely to cover up abuses within their ranks rather than deal with them, and b) resist adopting modern attitudes towards gender.

  2. Loren says

    I think that when power is arbitrarily gained, it will be unfairly defended when it is abused.

    I don’t know how one could do the experiment and establish entrenched matriarchies to see how their leaders would act, but it seems silly to suggest that women might be inherently nicer.

  3. Steve says

    I don’t think it’s necessarily because they are male dominated. With the Orthodox Jews especially it’s because they are so isolated and closed. They simply don’t want to let outsiders in and demand to handle all their affairs themselves. They also don’t want anything to tarnish their reputation. It’s the same with the Catholic church’s hierarchy.
    You can find the same in Protestant fundamentalism or Mormonism. There is a *huge* focus on appearing nice and perfect. They bury everything that has the potential to damage their image. Not just sexual abuse and other crimes.

  4. Mano Singham says

    But doesn’t that just push the question one step back to whether there is something about male-dominated groups that makes them feel isolated and closed and want to take care of things internally?

  5. left0ver1under says

    If the four conspirators in the orthodox jew abuse case have $500,000 to bribe the victim, then the victim should get the money if the abuser is convicted. The judge should order the money seized and given as compensation.

  6. No Light says

    The thugs also had the kosher certification removed from her boyfriend’s restaurant. That essentially shuts him down.

    The fact that the girl’s parents were forced into paying for her to be raped, adds an extra layer of evil and depravity.

    Word in the community, is that Weberman is the tip of a very ugly iceberg, hence the huge amount of bribe. He’s alleged to be one of many fake therapists who had kids funneled to them by the schools. and the Vaad Ha’tznius (Modesty Patrol). This was with full knowledge of what was going on.

    Satmar has always been incredibly corrupt, and one of the most misogynist sects (only the Gerrer loathe women more).

    So there seems to be some correlation between the level of male power and the lengths they’ll go to, in order to keep filthy secrets. I mean these Satmar goons even told the girl (and her boyfriend) that they’d arrange them a hiding place in Israel. Doesn’t sound too strange does it? Unless you know that Satmar despises Israel. They hate Israel, demonstrate against it, burn the flag etc. So that was a big, bizarre hint (along with the huge bribe) that something far nastier is being hushed up.

  7. LeftSidePositive says

    Are the Magdalene Sisters really an example of a female-dominated group? Yes, within the walls of that particular locale, the nuns are in charge, but the nuns are in service of a larger, and VERY male-dominated group (the frickin’ Roman Catholic Church!), that has indoctrinated them extensively that to be female is to be lesser, ESPECIALLY if one is a sexually-active female, and this kind of thinking probably contributed a great deal to the dehumanization of former prostitutes in the Magdalene laundries.

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