Where the abuse took place: Harreveld, a former boarding school | Unknown photographer | 14416
Dutch MPs called for an investigation into the case of young men under the age of 21 allegedly castrated in the 1950s by the Roman Catholic Church ‘to get rid of homosexuality.’
MPs will raise the issue after a Dutch newspaper revealed details of the punishments – which had not been exposed by an official investigation into sexual abuse within the Church published last year. The NRC Handelsblad, a daily evening paper in the Netherlands, identified a man called Henk Heithuis, as one of the young men who were castrated as well as nine other minors. After reporting two monks to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home, he was surgically castrated in 1956, when he was still a minor.
Mr Heithuis | NRC Handelsblad | 14415
Cornelius Rogge, 79, a well-known Dutch sculptor who knew Mr Heithuis witnessed the phyiscal evidence of the castration. ‘We once asked Henk to drop his pants when the women were gone. He did that. He was maimed totally. It was a huge shock,’ he said.
The surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse. Mr Heithuis was castrated at the age of 20 – in 1956 he had accused Catholic clergy of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home. Mr Heithuis died two years after the castration, in a car crash.
The investigation received 1,800 reports of sexual abuse by clergy or volunteers within Dutch Catholic dioceses in the period since 1945.