Tuesday, May 25, 2021

For Orthodox Brooklyn’s private police, a code of silence hides domestic abuse


 New York’s Community District 12, which covers the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, has by far the city’s lowest reported rate of domestic violence: 459 incidents per 100,000 residents in the most recent year the police department has published data.

But that doesn’t mean the largely Haredi community does not have a domestic violence problem. In fact, an analysis of crime data and court records, coupled with interviews of abuse victims, social workers, police officers and experts, show that the low rate instead reflects a code of silence in the insular religious enclave — and, until recently, a longstanding — if unwritten — agreement between the authorities and Orthodox leaders to let the community handle the problem internally.

“In Borough Park they like things taken care of in-house,” said Yael Machtinger, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who studies domestic violence in religious communities. “It’s definitely part of the culture that they don’t really want to be airing out their dirty laundry.”

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