100-Million-euro relief fund for victims

The Round Table on Child Abuse has finished its work. The federal government wants to half-finance aid amounting to 100 million euros, he said. Bishop Ackermann concluded by making it clear that the ie of abuse "concerns us all, the whole of society, many institutions – including, of course, the Catholic Church – but also families".

Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) announced after the last meeting of the committee on Wednesday in Berlin that the federal government would finance half of the aid to the tune of 100 million euros. Further funding is to be discussed with the states in the near future. The Round Table unanimously adopted a final report containing numerous recommendations and resolutions.

"The silence has been broken"
Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan (CDU) said the round table had taken a first step toward a "culture of attention". "The silence has been broken," she said. Federal Family Minister Kristina Schroder (CDU) added: "We have not reached the end of our efforts." The big part of the work is still to be done, she said. Child protection must always be fought for anew.
The Round Table plans to meet again in a year's time to review the implementation of its resolutions.

The 60-member committee decided that those affected could receive aid such as therapies amounting to a maximum of 10.000 euros in funding. In addition, victims of abuse are to be given longer than before to sue for damages. The statute of limitations under civil law is to be extended from the current three to 30 years.

Faster intervention and preventive action
Guidelines for institutions stipulate that the police and public prosecutor's office must be called in as quickly as possible in cases of suspected abuse. In the future, institutions such as schools or sports clubs will only receive state funding if they have signed prevention agreements with the public sponsor. The German Federal Ministry of Research is funding research projects on sexualized violence with 30 million euros over three years.

The Federal Initiative of Victims of Sexualized Violence criticized the financial limitation of the aid measures. Victims often need help over many years. The initiative also called for an expansion of the counseling network.

Bishop Ackermann: The ie is not settled
The abuse commissioner of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Stephan Ackermann, said the round table sent the signal that the ie of sexual abuse concerns the whole of society. The work in the committee had always been very constructive. The representatives of the Catholic Church had been treated respectfully. With the final report the topic is not finished.

This was also emphasized by the Plenipotentiary of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Prelate Bernhard Felmberg: "The last meeting of the Round Table is not a conclusion, but a beginning: Now what has been set in motion must prove its worth."The roundtable has made significant progress in terms of raising society's awareness of the ie of sexual violence," he said. It is also important, he said, that the work of the independent commissioners continues.

The Round Table did a good job despite some weaknesses, said Green Party member of parliament Ekin Deligoz, who was a member of the panel. Now, he said, the implementation of aid must be addressed. The children's policy spokeswoman of the left-wing parliamentary group, Diana Golze, said the final report set new standards in many areas and showed in other places the weaknesses of the child protection systems in Germany.

Victims' representative: "The result is meager"
The head of the Cologne-based counseling center "Zartbitter," Ursula Enders, on the other hand, said: "The result is meager."In particular, Enders criticized on Deutschlandfunk that too little has been agreed to expand the range of counseling services.

The Round Table had been convened by the German government last spring in response to the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. It included some 60 representatives from the federal, state and local governments, professional associations, the churches and schools, sports and academia, as well as some of those affected.

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