news

The town where 1,400 children were sexually abused.

By SHAUNA ANDERSON

Warning: This post contains details of rape and sexual abuse and may be distressing for some readers.

How could this occur?

Girls shared by groups of men.

Raped.

Traded, bartered for drugs, money.

Locked naked in rooms and forced to have sex with dozens of men lined up outside.

Transported across the country for gang-rapes.

Victims as young as eleven.

And the sheer number of girls abused – something that is almost too hard to comprehend.

Over 16 years in the town of Rotherham in Southern Yorkshire, England more than 1,400 young women have been abused and raped.

Some tried to speak out but were shut down by authorities who turned a blind eye to the horrors occurring. Others who threatened to speak out were tortured – one girl doused in petrol, her attacker threatening to set her alight.

Others forced to watch – or take part in – brutal gang rapes if they told of what was really going on.

And the perpetrators overwhelmingly men from Asian gangs – predominantly Pakistani.

Unbelievably up until 2013 only one case was prosecuted – involving three teenage girls – and five men were sent to jail. Just five.

The sheer depravity and scale of the abuse came to light last week in a report commissioned by the local council and led by Professor Alexis Jay.

The report

The report said “It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered… No one knows the true scale of the child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013.”

A major British town was turned into a rape camp

Its details shocked a nation, and left the town reeling.

One writer described it as “A major British town was turned into a rape camp”

Professor Alexis Jay’s report highlighted that the abuse suffered by these children was left to continue due to a fear of councillors being labeled racist.

“They seemed to think is was a one-off problem they hoped would go away and several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist”. She said

“Others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.”

The reports states “young people in Rotherham believed at that time that the Police dared not act against Asian youths for fear of allegations of racism”.

Several people interviewed by Professor Jay “expressed the general view that ethnic considerations had influenced the policy response of the Council and the Police”.

The Victims

1,400 girls.

ADVERTISEMENT

A conservative estimate.

The scale of this depravity is hard to imagine.

But individual stories have emerged.

From The New York Times:

 The rapes started gradually, once a week, then every day: by the war memorial in Clifton Park, in an alley near the bus station, in countless taxis and, once, in an apartment where she was locked naked in a room and had to service half a dozen men lined up outside.

Another, Emma told the BBC:

They started introducing alcohol and soft drugs to me and then, when I was 13, I was sexually exploited by them,” she says.

“Up until this point they had never tried to touch me, they had not made me ever feel uncomfortable or ever feel unsafe or that they could harm me.

“I trusted them, they were my friends as I saw it, until one night my main perpetrator raped me, quite brutally as well, in front of a number of people.

“From then on I would get raped once a week, every week.”

Pregnancies

Babies born to some victims in Rotherham were taken away from them them, their mothers never to see them again.

The report said:

In a number of the cases we read, children and young people had pregnancies, miscarriages and terminations. Some had children removed under care orders and suffered further trauma when contact with their child was terminated and alternative family placements found. This affected not just the victims themselves, but other siblings who had developed attachments to the baby.”

Grooming

The systematic grooming that took place in Rotherham was chilling.

The New York Times writes of how it slowly, insidiously occured.

“A period of courting with young men in public places like town centers, bus stations or shopping malls; the gradual introduction of cigarettes, alcohol and sometimes harder drugs; a sexual relationship with one man, who becomes the “boyfriend” and later demands that the girl prove her love by having sex with his friends; then the threats, blackmail and violence that have deterred so many girls from coming forward.” It was a pattern repeated countless times, over and over.

The girls were then “shared” – but not just among local men, across the country, driven to big cities where they were exchanged – rape for drugs and guns.

Professor Alexis Jay

Blame game

The world is now searching for answers. How could this occur? Why was it swept up under the carpet? What led to this abuse continuing for 16 years and no one doing a damn thing about it?

How can hundreds of children entrusted to the care of the state be subjected to such depravity?

The report said the “collective failures” of political and officer leadership were “blatant” over the first 12 years covered by the inquiry. Social care managers were said to have “underplayed” the scale of the problem. Police were said to have given child services cases no priority, regarding many child victims “with contempt” and failing to act on their abuse as a crime.

The report pointed the finger towards a fear of racism.

The Daily Mail reports “Concerns about damage to community cohesion were put above the need to protect the vulnerable. Police treated the victims with contempt, turning a blind eye to their plight and in many cases holding them responsible.”

But others disagree. Muhbeen Hussain, the founder of the British Muslim Youth community group, told The Huffington Post it was poverty that led to the widespread sexual abuse of these girls. “What happened is to do with poverty, social class and vulnerable people.”

“The reason the council didn’t take notice is because these children are from the most deprived backgrounds out there, not because they were white or the criminals were Muslim. 

”

“They thought ‘it’s normal for these children to do these kind of things, they’re just those kind of girls.”

Fall-out

While the UK struggles to work out why this occurred The Wall Street Journal reports that Roger Stone the leader of the Rotherham council since 2003, announced his resignation last Tuesday but there are now calls for the entire membership of Rotherham Council to resign.

The town of Rotherdam.

As more victims step forward – 12 since the publication of the report – the town and the country shake their heads demanding justice and yet visibly stunned that 16 years of unconscionable cover-ups could take place.

Further developments in the Rotherham abuse case are taking place every day.

We will keep you updated on the major developments.

If this brings up issues for you please contact the Child Abuse Prevention line on 1800 688 009.

Or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Or Kids Helpline on  1800 55 1800