Letters: Rotherham’s abused treated as 'throwaway girls'

These letters appear in the August 28 edition of The Independent

Share

I was the adviser to the Scottish parliamentary inquiry into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in 2013. I’m an Edinburgh University researcher and writer on sexual abuse issues.

The shocking catalogue of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, described with such uncompromising integrity by Alexis Jay, happened mainly because police, social services, and even communities witnessing the grooming “in plain sight” shared the abusers’ view of these vulnerable, throwaway girls: they were wee liars, delinquent, promiscuous – and not worth anyone’s hassle or expense. These girls were often under state “protection” after already suffering abuse or neglect.

Until these attitudes are finally uprooted, CSE scandals will continue throughout the UK.

Could staff who have chosen to work in caring for others please tell us how they could witness children’s trauma, distress and physical injuries, yet still interpret these as signs of consent?

Many professionals in Rotherham appear to have been guilty of allowing serious crimes against children to continue. If so, there ought to be grounds for prosecution. They also appear to have been flouting law and guidance from the early 2000s. Indeed, knowledge had been publicised of Sara Swann’s “boyfriend model” by the late 1990s. Developed through her work in Bradford, this described the exact pattern of ensnaring, total control and violent abuse of young teenage girls by older males.

Official guidance to child protection professionals in 2000 made clear that children in what was then called prostitution should be treated primarily as victims of abuses and as children in need. They should be safeguarded, and coercers prosecuted. Identification of children should always trigger multi-agency procedures to ensure their safety and welfare. Looked-after children were especially vulnerable.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 strengthened the messages of this guidance. It became an offence to cause or incite child prostitution and included the offence “of administrating a substance with the intent of committing a sexual offence”.

Plying victims with drink and drugs is an almost universal feature of CSE. So we also have to ask why the wishes of Parliament and Government were also being ignored for at least a decade.

Sarah Nelson
Edinburgh

 

This year we have had the export of extremism, the Trojan Horse affair in education in Birmingham, and now the horrors of Rotherham. All these have occurred because of the reticence, at best, and the fear, at worst, of treading on the sensibilities of ethnic minorities.

That has been as a direct result of the determination in the past three decades to establish multiculturalism: the notion that all cultures are equal, that there is no such thing as a host-nation culture in which all foreign newcomers have elected to settle and to which they should be prepared to adapt.

It is now surely obvious that the process is an abject failure. It will be a long and uphill task, but the time has clearly come to dismantle the entire concept of the “multicultural society”.

Edward Thomas
Eastbourne

 

Professor Alexis Jay’s report outlining child abuse in Rotherham raises a number of serious questions about our society and the values of individuals who clearly considered the protection of children less important than maintaining a camouflage of political correctness.

Of course resignations may result, but it’s not enough. Perhaps one way to ensure that morality is more likely to win the day in the future is to prosecute those who knew of these crimes and whose function it was to protect the children or uphold the law.

Peter Wrightson
Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire

 

A spokesperson from the NSPCC commented that there had been “collective blindness” in uncovering the extent of child abuse in Rotherham. A more appropriate phrase might have been “collective disregard and collusion”.

We can be sure that the figure quoted, of more than 1,400, only scratches the surface of this. For every case we know about, there will be countless others, and in many other cities.

Another recent news item, seemingly unconnected, was the call for sex education for seven-year-olds. These children in Rotherham will have experienced “sex education” of the worst possible kind – and the effect that unhealthy relationships can have.

Linda Piggott-Vijeh
Combe St Nicholas, Somerset

 

A good CV will help you get a job...

I sympathise with the situation Nina Gillespie finds herself in (“Got the degree – now for the job”, 21 August). Increasingly, unpaid internships are replacing what would have been paid, permanent jobs five years ago. But those paid graduate jobs do still exist in abundance, and the frustrations experienced by graduates seeking them are felt in similar measure by employers looking to fill their entry-level vacancies.

This summer I reviewed well over 500 CVs from applicants for the 20 or so graduate positions our fast-growing technology company had on offer.

Just over half of those applicants were in the reject pile within one minute of their submissions being opened. Spelling mistakes, typographical errors, random capitalisation and eclectic font use accounted for the majority.

If our universities are offering careers advice, then starting with how new graduates present themselves to employers way before they reach the interview stage would be a start. If they are already doing this, then I would encourage the students to pay more attention in class.

Rich Mortimer
Head of Talent, Egress Software Technologies
London NW6

 

...but not if you are  of a certain age

In the Seventies and Eighties I went through my schooling years with every belief that my government would look after its own (after all, we’re the ones who pay the taxes) and provide me with a compatible job.

I left college with an honours degree in biological sciences following my three A-levels and nine O-levels. After two years’ struggle I got a suitable job in cancer research in Oxford where I was very happy.

I helped get many scientific papers published and became a well-respected research institute member over 13 years.

Then the funding fell through and I was made redundant. I was not downhearted at the time, as I thought I would easily get another job in the lab with all my experience.

As a temporary “stopgap” I took up a job as a hospital porter. This was 11 years ago and I am still that porter.

In spite of hundreds of applications made to suitable vacancies (mainly within Oxford University),  I have been unable to secure another position. Now, at 50, I am considered too old.

This has had a negative effect on my children, who are going through school, disillusioned about what they are actually training for.

None of this is my fault. I worked hard to get my qualifications and I worked hard to gain all the work experience in order to compile a fairly impressive CV – but what good is all this? I’ve come to the conclusion that justice, in this country at least, just doesn’t exist.

Tony Bywaters
Oxford

 

Corporate tax failure hits world’s poor

The questions raised by your article about the accuracy of Government figures on corporate tax avoidance (“Osborne claims ‘mis-stated’ success of tax crackdown”, 27 August) touch on a wider issue.

The Government has asserted that the UK needs to help the world’s poorest countries fight back against tax avoidance. But this laudable aim has been contradicted by the UK’s actions. Two years ago the Government watered down its so-called Controlled Foreign Company rules – a measure that could cost poor and developing countries billions of pounds a year in lost tax revenue. That is money that could otherwise be spent building schools, hospitals and other public services.

It is time for all political parties to commit to act against the damage to poor countries caused by the UK’s corporate tax regime.

Florence de Vesvrotte
Government Relations Adviser, ActionAid
London EC1

 

You cannot make tax sexy. HMRC should concentrate on corporations and individual executives who consistently pay less tax than their cleaners, instead of playing cops and robbers with 30 individuals on a “most wanted” list.

Ian McKenzie
Lincoln

 

A question of too much sport?

Celia Stevens and David Harris (letters, 26 August) complain about how the sports pages cover too much men’s sport and too much football respectively. Perhaps there is just too much sport in The Independent (18 per cent of yesterday’s paper)?

David Stansfield
London E14

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Rockstar Sales Executive - OTE £65,000

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: sculpture, silly jokes and a guide to solving all engineering problems

John Rentoul
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: Sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital