A new study released on Sunday revealed 55 incidents of sexual assault that took place in the Hong Kong church community between last August and April this year, half of which were allegedly committed by pastors or other church leaders.
The Hong Kong Christian Council conducted an online survey starting in August 2017 in which 55 respondents claimed that either they were the victims of sexual assault or had witnessed such incidents in the churches, Oriental Daily reported.
A total of 55% said the harassment had been committed by church leaders or pastors and 17% of the victims had been forced into sexual acts, including rape and attempted rape.
While 56% of the respondents said they no longer attended the church where such incidents occurred, 30% remained at the same church.
Five respondents had in-depth interviews with the Christian Council. In one case, a female victim was unexpectedly kissed by her mentor in his office before she struggled and managed to escape, but she was indecently assaulted by the same man on a few occasions afterward, Apple Daily reported.
Jessica Tso, the council’s assistant executive secretary, said victims often did not complain because churches would used Christian tenets such as forgiveness, obedience and “God’s plan” to try to cover up anything that might affect the Christian image.
In some cases, the victims would be blamed by other people in the church if they affected the church’s or the pastor’s image. As a result, the victims would not report the case publicly.
The survey results came after pastor Ngai Lap-yin of the Brotherly Love Swatow Baptist Church admitted on Friday that he had behaved inappropriately and harmed women in his church. Ngai was fired two months ago.