Canada grants sex-abuse victim, 12, refugee status

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A 12-year-old British boy has been granted refugee status in Canada because of fears that he would be sexually abused if he returned to the United Kingdom. Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that the child, who has not been named, had been failed by the British authorities, who did not respond to his mother's pleas for help after he was abused by his father and paternal grandparents.

Canada grants asylum only to members of "a particular social group" with a well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland. It is thought to be the first time this has been ruled to cover a victim of sex abuse. Details of the decision, made on 15 January were published yesterday in Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper, which obtained them under Canada's freedom of information laws.

The newspaper reported that the boy was born in the United States in 1984 and moved with his parents to Britain the next year. There he was sexually abused by his father and paternal grandparents until 1991. His mother sought assistance from the British authorities to no avail.