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Thoughts on the Lokanath Swami Case, Amber

 

September 17, 2021

My personal view, shared by many, just so it has been expressed clearly for the record… I understand that 30 odd years have passed since Lokanath Swami touched a child between the legs, and in other inappropriate ways over the course of several days, and that there has been no known recurrence.

I understand that personal and spiritual growth, remorse and repentance, may have occurred during that time.

I understand that Krsna is very merciful and that as a benevolent society following in the footsteps of Mahaprabhu we should extend compassion to the fallen, conditioned souls.

I appreciate that as jivas we are all on the battlefield of material nature and our only hope is our continued pursuit of spiritual consciousness, and that that is perhaps the only real, unconditional entitlement we have.

I understand the cultural divide, and the political implications of a Zero Tolerance Policy inasmuch as it might imply further investigations, possible actions taken against offenders and perhaps the restructuring of our beloved Srila Prabhupada’s institution.

However, as a second generation devotee, a gurukuli, a survivor of sexual abuse… as a mother, as a friend and witness to the trauma of many who have survived, or are struggling to survive abuse while under the banner of ISKCON, as someone who still has to deal with the after-effects of abuse daily, knowing the full impact of such abuse… I find it disheartening that this issue is taken in light of the interests of the institution.

I find it disappointing that protection, lenience and preferential treatment are given based on status, political power and guru-ship as opposed to protecting and upholding the innocence and vulnerability of children. It inspires feelings of disgust, that child protection is under debate, that somehow lawful protection of children evades people’s conscience, that as an institution we fumble and falter, as if unsure where our responsibility lies, somehow withholding proper avenues of seeking redress.

The current case of Lokanath Swami is a catalyst for change. Those abused as children of Krsna in Prabhupada’s movement have grown to adulthood and have found their voice.

People who commit child abuse, past or present, should not hold a position of leadership, should not sit on the Vyasasana, should not be heralded as a saviour or be publicly honoured. There should be a mandate in place that stipulates a Zero Tolerance Policy for child abuse.

This is not an issue of laundering or stealing money, or visiting prostitutes, or having affairs with adults, or of manipulating or abusing adults under your guidance or command. Child abuse is the willful abuse of innocence, the utilisation of someone’s trust to satisfy personal curiosity, pleasure or gain.

Our children are our future. If we set a precedent of allowance we effectively make way for more abuse to take place under our watch, to be accepted as ok or neglectable.

To turn a blind eye, to shy away from moral responsibility, is to be complicit. If someone touched my child between the legs I would not be offering homage and neither would I affiliate myself with an institution that condones, excuses or ignores this kind of behaviour.

May Krsna forgive us our quandary, may He always shine in our hearts as the Absolute Truth, a shelter to all, and the ultimate goal and object of all sacrifice.

Thanks, AMBER

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