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These are just some of the conditions those who fall for a Jehovah's Witness must adhere to. She has painted her fingernails, polished her patent leather shoes and donned a new dress from H&M.Members of the sect in Germany prefer to pair off their children within the faith community, and regional congresses make for prime matchmaking territory. Her hair is delicately pinned up, arranged in bud-like clusters. " Melanie, 17, was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness at 14." Since his birth, he had been dragged to meetings. And when he brought his first girlfriend home, his father promptly sent her packing.At age 18, he moved out and hasn't been back since.Because he chose freedom and his current girlfriend, he is "essentially parentless," he says.No Masturbation, No Homosexuals Like many young Jehovah's Witnesses, Melanie has read a glossy pamphlet entitled "Questions Young People Ask: Answers That Work." It makes it clear that homosexuality is forbidden and masturbation demonized.And since the family must expand, "many Witnesses naturally meet their future spouses here," says Uwe Langhals, another spokesman, who has been a Jehovah's Witness since he was 15.Once decried as a cult, the Jehovah's Witnesses have managed to successfully fight for the title of "statutory public body" in 12 of the 16 German states.
Why are 17-year-olds spending their time in Bible Study, instead of meeting with their friends?
The number of children and youths among them is not recorded.
Yet many of them are victims of this community, which promises paradise -- but for many, becomes a hell on earth.
Here they can pray among peers, feeling a sense of community instead of isolation.
"This is our big family reunion," says Michael Krenzer, a spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses in Dortmund.