Two excellent articles about the real scandal of the Rochdale and Oxford sex abuse cases(12 Posts)
I thought both of these articles spoke so much sense. The huge issue that cannot be ignored here is that young women came forward, asked for help, begged for help in some cases, ran away from home and were ignored and ridiculed by the adults who were supposed to be protecting them. Exactly as happened in the Jimmy Savile case - many many people knew and some spoke up, but all were sidelined.
This is the real issue and I wish the wider media would start focusing on it, instead of getting het up about whether it's racist of not to comment on the fact that most of the abusers were of Pakistani origin.
It's petrifying and sickening to think how many of these same cases are going on right now all over the country, under our noses.
I found Zoe Williams's article excellent, but was rather perplexed at Suzanne Moore's attitude to prostitutes in her piece. What was the point of calling them "whores" or being ironic about the "sex worker" term?
Oh you're right AutumnMadness - I was very about her use of 'whores'. I share her view about criminalising the buying of sex and shaming the buyers of sex not the sellers, but why so seemingly dismissive of the prostitutes themselves?
I agree. The ethnicity/religion of the perpetrators is beside the point. The scale of the crimes and time it took for the appropriate authorities to investigate them is shocking.
I find the current attitude to children and their speech very strange and frankly can't make head or tail of it. On one hand, I know school teachers who never have meetings with students without witnesses because they have been accused of all sorts in the past (I don't mean sexual assault here, but accusations of laughing at the student or being overly critical, etc.). The schools appear to take these accusations incredibly serious and the following investigations make the lives of the teachers hell. On the other hand, we have police ignoring children's stories about being drugged and raped.
The Zoe Williams article is spot on - as expected from ZW, but particularly so this time!
Her 'fraction of a witness' observation is (sadly) so, so true.
She's one of those rare writers who consistently presents a voice of reason.
They were ignored because the police and social workers feared being accused of racism, that came from the top down. When reports first came out about these gangs and how the girls were ignored, there was outrage from from all the 'politically correct' types, screaming racism at those who were speaking out against it. All those who are now claiming that this has nothing to do with racism were years ago the ones screaming racism when locals were trying to draw attention to this. Remember that documentary on this abuse being pulled from being shown because it would show that all the 'racists' were telling the truth and might make people vote bnp?
These girls were targeted by gangs because they were white, the men are racist against white women because they believe us all to be filthy whores and it is that attitude that allowed them to treat these girls as sub humans. The police and social workers refused to do their jobs because to recognise that would be 'racist'. The media that did report it was accused of 'racism', everyone that spoke out against it called a 'racist', parents who complained were told they were racist and the victims told by the police that they were racist.
If the races were reversed, this problem would have been nipped in the bud years ago, the media would have put it under the spotlight and everyone would be discussing the racist and prejudicial attitudes that were inciting this behaviour and from the wider community.
These men didn't take girls from their own communities because they firstly they would have considered them human, those who didn't wouldn't do it because they would have been ostracised and far worse, obviously their communities don't feel the same way about them attacking girls who were different to theirs. That raises questions about their attitudes.
It's all about racism.
That's a vastly over-simplified version of events, it's by no means all about racism.
Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, all those other white meejah types who haven't yet been charged and/ or found guilty found that white girls were just as sub-human as girls of any other ethnicity.
The men in Oldham etc. didn't consider these girls sub-human because they're white, but because they're girls and they're easily accessible by them for their sexual use. In another context, they'd be just as happy to sexually exploit girls of their own ethnicity but they'd use some kind of other "othering" - caste, language, religion, whatever. To say it's race alone, is just not accurate. If that were true, men would only ever sexually exploit women of a different ethnicity to themselves. That doesn't happen though, does it.
I'm not denying that there was an element of race othering attached in this particular case; but the sexual exploitation of girls by rings of rapists, isn't just a problem of race. In the Derbyshire case which wasn't reported nearly as widely as the Oldham one, four out of five of the perpetrators were white.
And girls and women claming that they've been raped get ignored all the time by police and social workers. The idea that these girls were treated in a very unusual way because of delicate political sensibilities, is just not accurate - their treatment was pretty bog standard when it comes to rape, tbh.
I agree that the main issues is that girls and women get ignored, or worse, subject to additional abuse, when they report rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse.
There are numerous feeble justifications given for why they are ignored, and each of those justifications has to be challenged separately. The reasons why the victims of various BBC employers will have been ignored will be different to why the victims of the Rochdale/Oldham and Oxford cases will have been ignored. All of them have to be challenged, just as we challenge the different reasons why domestic violence is ignored.
I live near one of these areas and there was public concern over groups operating, victims being ignored, police not investigating etc. Had there not been local public discussion of this and strong feeling about it, I don't know if it ever would have been investigated and criminal charges brought. It reminds me of the Stephen Lawrence murder in that it took public pressure to get the police to do their jobs, but the same problems remain for future cases.
So I think race and political correctness were issues in the failure to protect those girls and that does need to be challenged, but so do all the other feeble justifications for not investigating in other cases where the perpetrators are white.
As Basil has said - and as Zoe Williams said in her article - the 'issue', the factor that all these cases have in common, is that the victims weren't listened to, or were ignored/'discredited'/silenced/further abused when they made statements or asked for help at the time that the abuse was taking place.
I think the main reason for this is very simple: it's easier to discredit a vulnerable, troubled, powerless young person than it is to take the risk and make the effort of taking what they are saying seriously, and upsetting the status quo, and potentially making oneself vulnerable in the process.
Perhaps this situation has been altered slightly in in law that the interests of young people are now seen as paramount, and so there's less chance of a hefty comeback via defamation proceedings from an alleged abuser who hasn't been convicted. But I think a culture of fear still remains, and a culture of clinging to the status quo. And of course, the victims of these crimes are young people who are written off as 'difficult', etc. And so in that context, indicators that they're being abused are dismissed as ordinary characteristics of troubled young people.
And, of course, as per ZW's 'fraction of a witness' observation, what the various high profile cases have in common is that there were a large number of victims of the same abusers in all cases.
So in all these cases, survivors' evidence is 'strengthened' by their being adults and the relative safety and strength of numbers.
It's much easier to identify 'racism' or corruption of single institutions as the underlying 'problems' here than it is to look at what these cases really have in common: the fact that adults still quail at taking seriously what's said by young people who are stating or suggesting that they are being sexually abused.
I don't see why it has to be only about a single issue. To look at the Stephen Lawrence case again, there was an underlying issue of institutional racism in society but there was also a specific instance of police corruption. The response was to bring in the Equality Act which will have made some differences to levels of institutional racism across society as a whole, but hasn't really done anything about police corruption. So the most horrific cases of police corruption, mostly committed against black people, continue to happen.
So in these cases, while we should be dealing with a number of problems of institutional misogyny and ageism across the whole of society, so that attitudes to sexual abuse change, there still needs to be immediate action that targets the police and social services so that they do their jobs and stop sexual abuse when it is reported to them. Otherwise we are excusing behaviour of specific organisations and individuals on the basis that it is a widespread social problem. Those individuals are responsible for their own behaviour, regardless of the wider context, and should be held responsible. I don't think it is just about sexism either; it is that social services has a culture of incompetence at best and corruption at worst, and allow children of both sexes in their care to be abused, either by not acting on external cases of abuse of children in care, or by allowing children in care to be abused within the system itself.
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