Mennonite Central Committee is urging people not to judge the Old Order Mennonite colony that grabbed international headlines in July with shocking stories of mass rape.
Eight members of the Manitoba Mennonite Colony in Bolivia have been jailed on charges of allegedly drugging and raping more than 100 colony women over the course of several years.
“We ask that the wider Mennonite community, and others, pray for the people in these communities as they struggle with what is happening,” says John Janzen, coordinator of MCC’s Low German program.
“We stand with our brothers and sisters, not in any way condoning this act or any other similar acts, but working through the pain, seeking justice, learning the lessons, and preparing for a better future.”
MCC Bolivia offered counselling support for the victims, but the offer was declined.
There are approximately 25,000 Mennonites living in colonies in Bolivia. They are the descendants of conservative Mennonites who came to Bolivia in the 1950s in search of greater agricultural opportunity and religious freedom.