Tokyo -- A woman in Japan who was raised as a third-generation Jehovah's Witness opened up about her past, including abuse from her parents, in a meeting held by opposition parties in the Diet on Nov. 7.
The Tokyo resident in her 30s commented, "I want action to be taken so parents do not force religion onto their children, and children are not robbed of learning opportunities." Since the age of 3, the woman had attended gatherings of Jehovah's Witnesses three times every week. If she dozed off or did other things during these meetings, her family, who were ardent followers of the Christian sect, led her to the bathroom where they slapped her or spanked her with a belt. She did not go to day care or kindergarten, as her family thought it was a "bad influence."
Due to the sect's teachings, she was also not allowed to participate in events on various occasions, including Christmas, the "Tanabata" star festival, and birthday parties. She was even banned from joining others to sing her school's song and partake in a "shoulder wars" game during athletic events, leading to her classmates viewing her as strange. She was also not allowed to take an entrance exam for the junior high school of her choice, as her parents said it would result in less time to spend on religious activities.
During her middle school years, she began to run away from home repetitively, after being told by her parents that her relationship with an older student was "immoral." She said she told police about being abused by her parents and other issues, but was never placed under protection by a child consultation center.
"Second- and third-generation children do not have the means to communicate the harm done to them. I'd like Diet members from various parties to cooperate to handle this issue," the woman commented.
A public relations representative of the Jehovah's Witnesses told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We teach followers to raise their children with love, based on the teachings of the Bible. The method should be decided by each family, but it's regretful if any parents abused their children. We do not force teachings onto members." Regarding the ban on event participation, the representative said, "The Bible teaches people to avoid participating in holidays based on the customs of those from other religions. However, this is left to the individual's decision, and we have fun while not being swayed by specific holidays."
(Japanese original by Shunsuke Takara, Izumisano Resident Bureau)
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