Equality Column: ‘No greater crime in humanity’

The Betrayed Girls - Picture Shows: Sketch: Shabir Ahmed, one of the defendants, accusing the white community of letting down the girls who testified in the May 2012 Rochdale child abuse trial. Photographer: Sketch Artist: Priscilla Coleman
The Betrayed Girls - Picture Shows: Sketch: Shabir Ahmed, one of the defendants, accusing the white community of letting down the girls who testified in the May 2012 Rochdale child abuse trial. Photographer: Sketch Artist: Priscilla Coleman

Is there any greater crime against humanity then committing child sexual abuse? I have worked in the public sector for nearly 20 years now, and that includes working for Rochdale and Rotherham Council – two local authorities that have been at the centre of the child sexual abuse scandal in this country.

While the failure of literally every public sector agency, the police, councils, social workers and health agencies, is well documented, one thing remains undeniable, and that is, the fact that these children will never get their childhoods or innocence back, nor will the trauma of this abuse ever fully leave them.

Programme Name: The Betrayed Girls - TX: n/a - Episode: The Betrayed Girls (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Nazir Afzal - Chief Prosecutor, North West England 2011-2015
 Nazir Afzal - (C) Sandpaper Films - Photographer: Grabs

Programme Name: The Betrayed Girls - TX: n/a - Episode: The Betrayed Girls (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Nazir Afzal - Chief Prosecutor, North West England 2011-2015 Nazir Afzal - (C) Sandpaper Films - Photographer: Grabs

After watching the BBC programme The Betrayed Girls, and after writing so many times that paedophilia has no race (it doesn’t) – I have to say that in these cases aired on TV it did, and that is because of two reasons, 1) because in many of these cases the victims were white, and 2) during the abuse (from what I have read) of these children there seems to be evidence that racist language was used. I only wish that the racist motivation had been included in the charging of the perpetrators. It would have done more to protect community relations - paedophiles who are racist need to be held to account.

Moreover, these scandals continue to raise many national issues, including the need to tackle the institutional class system that pervades the public sector, though in my view, is still not fully exposed and sits at the heart of many of these scandals. Stephen Lawrence, Winterbourne, Climbie, Hillsborough, Grenfell and the CSE scandal exposes much more than industrial scale incompetence. Each of these cases exposes the ugly underbelly of the public sector, led by those people at the top, who systematically failed the most vulnerable people in society, as they seem to be compromised by politics, power and career aspirations.

In my view, these scandals will continue until we a) change the culture within these organisations, particularly in prioritising, supporting and protecting the vulnerable, ensuring that success is determined by how the vulnerable receive the best outcomes, and b) that criminal prosecutions don’t take 25 years to see a court room. This will only happen when those in power are stopped from trying to gag people from telling the truth. We must never forget that in most of these scandals the victims have either lost their lives, or have had their lives destroyed.

In my view there are many steps that can be taken to help protect young people, particularly females in our society. Firstly, we need to talk openly about child sexual abuse, and why it happens, 2) we must challenge the patriarchal structures that limit the aspirations and talents of women from realising their potential – we desperately need more women leaders. 3) we must introduce a new performance framework in the public sector that measures success on how the most vulnerable in society, in local authority care, have been supported to achieve the best outcomes 4) we have to make the concept of “izzath / honour” in Asian communities that ensures older people don’t end up in care homes, females are protected from abuse, transcend family, culture, race, religion and community boundaries – so that every person in society benefits from the richness of multi-culturalism and holds a responsibility for each other 5) we desperately need to proactively challenge the objectification of women 6) we need competent people with a moral conscience to routinely undertake equality impact assessments – so when youth centres or councils ignore the needs of minorities, women and young people, the leaders of these places can be reprimanded, including being called out for their lack of moral authority and held to account for the decisions and losses the community incurs.

Each of these cases exposes the ugly underbelly of the public sector

7) we have to pro-actively tackle every form of racism and discrimination so that the extreme right wing populous is starved of oxygen, and finally 8) we must prioritise, fund and empower young people in care of local authorities to achieve their full potential.

Programme Name: The Betrayed Girls - TX: n/a - Episode: The Betrayed Girls (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Maggie Oliver - Detective Constable, Greater Manchester Police 1997- 2012
 Maggie Oliver - (C) Sandpaper Films - Photographer: Grabs

Programme Name: The Betrayed Girls - TX: n/a - Episode: The Betrayed Girls (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Maggie Oliver - Detective Constable, Greater Manchester Police 1997- 2012 Maggie Oliver - (C) Sandpaper Films - Photographer: Grabs