Oxford child sex gang victim tells her story: ‘It seemed normal, but it wasn’t – I was a child’
It started with a “honeymoon period”. She met Mohammed Karrar and he was kind to her, showing her the affection she never felt she had and buying her gifts. Most of all, he made her feel like she had the control over her life that seemed to come so easily to her peers.
For years, she called him her boyfriend; they were in a relationship, she said. She was also introduced to Karrar's younger brother Bassam. Before long, they would begin introducing her to other men.
By the time she finally extricated herself from their clutches around five years later, the honeymoon had turned into a living hell.
In that time, the Karrar brothers subjected her to years of rape, both individually and together. They forced her to have sex with men she did not know; often in groups. Sometimes, they would drive her to towns across the country to do so. Some of it, she described as “torture sex”. She was also made to have a backstreet abortion after falling pregnant.
The horrific sexual ordeals they put her through do not bear detailed description.
It is a long way from the six-month-long “honeymoon period” to the deepest depths of the abuse meted out to the girl, known only as “Girl D” for legal reasons. But every step of the journey, the Karrar brothers were there. Sometimes they coerced her, sometimes they convinced her, many other times, they simply beat and raped her.
Above all, she knew of little else when it came to relationships with men. That is understandable, she was only 11 years old when Mohammed Karrar started to groom her.
The first time she was raped by him, she was in the toilet at a party. She told him 'no' but it made no difference. She thought at the time that it had been her choice because she didn't shrug him off. She was 12 years old. “We should do this again,” he told her afterwards.
The arrangement for her to meet Karrar in the first place was made by a mutual friend who'd “had the same done to her”. At first she and “Mo” - as she came to know him - would meet up to chill. They would sit in a flat and talk about “emotional stuff” and he would buy her presents. One of the gifts he seduced this 11-year-old girl with was a bottle of pop. Later, they would “pretty much get f***** out of [their] faces and have sex”.
“It was like a normal relationship, obviously it wasn't; I was a child. But, at the time, it seemed to be like a normal boyfriend-girlfriend relationship,” she said.
Mohammed Karrar was told she was 16-years-old at first; five years older than her actual age at the time, but he was in no doubt she was under-age. He even sent her a text message after they met telling her he knew. In court, he was shown a picture of her taken not long after he first had sex with her. “She's a baby, isn't she?” demanded the prosecution QC Noel Lucas. She had still not fully developed physically and would not for years after the abuse started.
“Mo” always told her that he loved her. He used to say: “When you are 15, I will take you to Saudi Arabia and marry you,” and even talked about having children with her. She believed him. “At the time, they make you think you are loved and, at the time, I enjoyed it,” she said.
He was regularly having sex with her at the age of 12. His brother was having a parallel relationship with her, although she did not see him as often.
Before she reached her teens, she was pregnant. When Mohammed Karrar found out, he was “fucking fuming” with her for allowing it to happen. “You should have been more responsible”, he told her. He went crazy at her and grabbed her by the throat.
Soon after, he gave her drugs and took her to Reading to have a backstreet abortion. She could hear what was going on but was not greatly aware of her surroundings. Then the pain started, it was like a period pain but 10 times worse. She came round, asking what was going on but no one would speak to her. They were using a hooked instrument. There was no doctor or nurse and she bled for “fucking ages” afterwards.
Nevertheless, the relationship with “Mo” carried on because she thought she had to “stick with him through hard times and good times”. Whenever she tried to break it off, he would react either by getting angry or by appearing to get upset and she would always go back.
When she would try to escape his clutches, he would either sit her down on his knee, telling her he would “do right by her”; or taunt her, saying “you know you won't do it”. Eventually, she came to the conclusion there was no point in her trying because he would not allow it.
She started to go off the rails when she began secondary school. That was when, in her own words, she began to realise that her heavy responsibilities at home did not constitute a normal social life for a girl of her age. She decided she wanted to live a normal teenager's life and started to rebel.
Her relationship with them soured as problems at home became too much to bear and she was in care by her early teens, moving out of her parents' aged 13. She was no angel, by her own admission. She got involved in drugs at a very young age and she became a bully.
In the midst of her abuse at his hands, she stole around £9,000 in cash from Mohammed Karrar. She did it because he had sold her “without no fucking permission”.
Mohammed Karrar would buy her takeaway food and, if she didn't finish some of it, he would throw it in her face and tell her she should appreciate it. If he had bought her a drink or drugs she did not want, he would make her consume them; then he would give her more because, he would say, she was a “lucky girl”.
The brothers, she said, were “bad men, they were the big bad men. They would say 'you will do what I want and no one can say shit to me'. They acted like gangsters, they thought they were big bad men but they are just not”.
Before she even reached her teens, Mohammed Karrar began injecting her with heroin. She would later inject herself because it “was better than being there and being alive, it was better than feeling”. Thus, his hold on her became absolute.
Part of her even felt jealousy when “Mo” was around other girls her age. But then, there was always the nagging thought that each girl he was introduced to was another life waiting to be destroyed. The effect he had on her own life is still being acutely felt.
Karrar began to ask her to have sex with his friends, most of whom would pay him. Still aged only 12, she refused because she loved him and she believed that, when you love someone, doing that is not right. At first, he accepted her refusal, but his attitude hardened as time went on. He told her to “do it for him” and said she would “do it if she loved him”. The most he made to have sex with in the 'sessions' he set up was eleven men.
When they were all gone, he would tell her: “I love you baby, you are proving you would do anything for me.” When it was all over, he would put her in the bath and scrub her skin until it hurt and she bled. After one occasion on which he had sex with her, he heated up a hairpin and branded her with it.
After another occasion, she managed to pull a knife he carried out of his pocket and threatened him with it. Her punishment for that was a whack over the head with a baseball bat, followed by arguably the most brutal act of sexual violence she suffered in the whole five-year ordeal.
After each assault, Mo would taunt her, making her feel “lower and lower and lower” about herself. Over time, she would herself be sent out to find other girls who were similarly vulnerable to bring back to the Karrar brothers.
Before she turned 13, Mo began using her as a hostess for parties he would throw. She would be expected to fulfil any requirement his guests might have; regularly being forced to have sex with them and “act out their weird fantasies”. If she kicked out, she would be restrained and the men would laugh at her. She was also forced to make videos of some of the sex acts aged only 13.
During one party, she bit one of the men whom she was being forced to pleasure. The punishment for that at the hands of Mohammed Karrar, by now, was familiar. She begged him to stop, telling him she loved him, but it did no good. A houseful of people could see what he was doing to her; their reaction was to taunt her.
She reached a breaking point when a “fat greaseball”, whom Mohammed Karrar told her to get in a car with, drove her up to a wooded area and demanded sex. He had taken her to the woods she used to play in as a child only a few years earlier, before all of this started. It was too much. Mohammed Karrar hit her so hard she was bruised and swollen for a month.
Eventually, aged around 15, she was able to cut off contact with the Karrar brothers, although they would still call her and threaten her over the stolen money, which they wanted her to earn back. Giving her evidence in chief at their trial, she regularly broke down in tears; her mouth wide open in a silent scream and her shoulders shaking as the tears poured down her face. More than once she wretched at remembering the things that the men did to her.
That is where her story should end but perhaps the saddest part was to come. Aged 17, she went back seeking answers. She confronted Mohammed Karrar over the abuse she had suffered at his hands. They went to his flat and she saw the same blue sofa he had. All of the memories came back and she broke down.
“I remember that I thought he loved me that whole time. I thought I was right but I was wrong. I just felt like my whole life came to an end because I managed to feel that low to go back”. She demanded to know why he had treated her like he did from the age of 11. His answer was to rape her one last time.
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