Several complaints have been filed against the Kivotos Tou Kosmou association, head of five children’s households across the country.
by Marina Rafenberg (Athens, Correspondence)
For a few days, Greece has been in shock after the opening, by the prosecution, of an investigation into several managers of the Orthodox NGO Kivotos Tou Kosmou/Ark of the World (“The Ark of the World” ) for sexual violence and ill -treatment towards minors hosted in five households across the country. Founded and managed for almost twenty-five years by Father Antonios Papanikolaou, the NGO collects children separated from families being in the financial inability to raise them or accused of mistreatment.
The case begins in August, when a social worker of a home files a complaint against another employee of the NGO who “beaped”, according to him, minors. Other colleagues then denounced similar violence. But it was above all the testimonies of the abused children collected by the defender of the rights of children who sparked the opening of an investigation by the prosecution, Friday, November 18. The prosecutor studies for the moment at least ten depositions which accuse Father Antonios, his wife (the Orthodox priests can be married) and three employees of the NGO. 2> locked up “in cages” in cages ”
In the Greek media, the confessions of minors passed by the establishments are freezing. Several of them affirm, in the columns of the Kathimerini newspaper, that, when they were punished by the officials of the home, they were locked up for several hours in rooms or even “in cages” without daylight. Another resident tells of having been forced to work in the fields from the age of 7. Several parents complained of having been prohibited from any visit by the organization. At 17, Evgenia also recounts, on the Skai TV television channel, having fallen pregnant and having been forced to abort. Separated from her three brothers and sisters, she will be regularly locked in the toilet several hours “to be punished”.
To the ill -treatment inflicted on children are added serious accusations of sexual violence, after a complaint filed by a 19 -year -old young man and corroborated by a witness against Father Antonios.
The Greek government has decided to react quickly. After a council of ministers on Monday, he decided to replace the administration of the NGO. “The complaints that have been made of abusive behavior are very serious, but, until the investigation is completed, we must ensure the proper functioning of the structures,” said Deputy Social Protection Minister Domna Michailidou, justifying that households do not close completely.
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