Jana and Jinger Duggar were in Indiana, in their first public appearance since their brother's molestations were revealed in May, when the new scandal hit. Jana, 25, and Jinger, 21, are the unmarried sisters of Josh Duggar and still live in the Duggar family home under the watchful eyes of their restrictive parents, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.
The two young women were in Indianapolis (with their mother chaperoning) as speakers in a four-day conference for mothers and teenage daughters sponsored by Advanced Training Institute (ATI), a controversial Christian organization. Since two other Duggar daughters are now married and no longer live in the Duggar home, both Jana and Jinger Duggar have been saddled with work taking care of their mother's household with cleaning, food preparation, and laundry for 18 people.
When news of their brother's sexual molestations of four sisters and another unrelated girl broke on May 19, most speaking engagements dried up and the young women have been cloistered in their Arkansas home. Then, in July, they were notified that the family's reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting, was permanently cancelled.
Both Jana and Jinger Duggar thought that 2015 would be a fun year promoting their book, Growing Up Duggar, which they wrote with their married sisters, Jill and Jessa. Along with the talks they were giving at the Indianapolis conference, they had a book-signing scheduled and a question-and-answer session.
The Indiana conference began on Wednesday, the day the latest scandal regarding their brother Josh Duggar hit the internet. Josh Duggar was one of the first celebrities identified when the adultery dating site Ashley Madison was hacked and accounts were made public. On Thursday, Josh confessed to committing adultery, and to an addiction to pornography on the Duggar family blog. It was also revealed that, for many years, Josh had a secret Facebook account where he connected with strippers in Northwest Arkansas and that he was an active member in more than one dating site.
Nothing could have prepared the sisters for this latest revelation in this summer of Duggar family woes. Certainly they have overwhelming sympathy from their fans, but it is not publicly known how they handled their talks at the convention while dealing with their own personal traumas. In the conference brochure, the Duggar sisters were scheduled to speak about relationships and about honesty.
"The Duggar girls will share from their hearts about their relationship as sisters in a family of 19 children, the importance of communication and openness with their parents, and about their most important relationship of all – their relationship with Jesus."Jinger Duggar has an unusual fan base in the form of a forum that was set up in her name, Free Jinger. For years, her supporters have urged her to develop her individuality and to pursue her own dreams. Perhaps this latest scandal is the impetus Jinger Duggar needs to move away from the family brand and to find her own path.
Do you think Jana and Jinger Duggar will find something to do besides take care of their mother's household and children before they marry? Scroll down to chime in with your comments.
[Intro photo credit: 19 Kids and Counting from TLC]