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Shanti’s Letter to the GBC

Shanti Day’s Facebook post on August 1, 2021:

This is a letter that I wrote to the GBC email list a few weeks ago (I received replies from two people). It has taken me over a month to gather the courage to post this on Facebook; can you imagine how difficult it is for a survivor of abuse to come forward?

My intention in sharing this is to practice speaking up for what I believe in, and what I don’t believe in. I hope you do the same!

Thank you Saraswati Richardson Jones, K.D. McComb and others for setting the example of bravery in the face of adversity.

PM me if you want to talk about it.

June 22, 2021

Dear members of the GBC,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am an educator and second generation member of ISKCON. I taught at the Bhaktivedanta Academy in Alachua and have volunteered my free time to youth ministry tours and sangas. I have completed numerous child abuse prevention trainings during the course of my service. I have learned that child abuse is most often perpetrated by someone that the victim ‘knows, likes, loves or lives with’ and that it is difficult to speak up and painful to prosecute. I have learned that, unfortunately, abuse can flourish in situations where there are hierarchical power structures, such as religious institutions, school settings and even within families, and that there is a tendency towards secrecy and shame and cover-ups in these situations to save face.

The handling of the Lokanath Swami case to date has severely damaged my faith in the Krsna Consciousness movement. Please, please promptly handle this case with care and integrity. Please don’t allow people with a history of misconduct, especially towards children, to hold leadership positions in our society. If nothing else, please at least stand aside and support the CPO in its invaluable service.

This is a painful situation, but it’s not complicated. If we don’t prioritize the protection of children, what use are the most beautiful buildings in the world, the most ornate decorations on altars, the most lavish feasts? We’d be like any other corporation in the world that prioritizes profit and image over integrity.

Thank you for taking the time to read this appeal. I trust that Krsna has a plan; may we all be His instruments in bringing the world closer to Him.

Sincerely,

Shantipur dasi

P.S. Dear members of the GBC, please also stop associating with Dhanudara Swami. I applaud the GBC for supporting the CPO’s decisions regarding his case. However, individual members’ continued support, exemplified by the letter written by Guruprasad Swami to his disciples last spring, in which he weighs the value of millionaire disciples over permanently scarred survivors of our gurukula experiment, wear away and the tentative trust that we all truly want to maintain and nourish.

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