Regardless of political differences, there is one thing that usually guarantees consensus from both political parties and the general public – the importance of protecting vulnerable children.
However, it now seems the Conservative government do not share this consensus.
Charities claim that the government have been refusing compensation to confirmed child sexual abuse victims based on the grounds that they believe that the children ‘consented’ to the abuse.
Children accused of consenting to abuse
Following freedom of information requests, a coalition of charities has revealed that the government is accusing child victims as young as 12 of ‘consenting’ to abuse.
Horrifyingly, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, have denied nearly 700 children a compensation payment based on this judgement.
The coalition of charities – Victim Support, Rape Crisis, Barnardo’s, Liberty and the National Working Group – have written to justice secretary David Lidington, demanding that the guidelines CICA follow are reviewed.
Having sex with anybody under the age of 16 is illegal, and yet CICA does not automatically make payments to victims of sexual abuse, even if their attackers have been jailed. Instead, it uses specific criteria to decide whether compensation will be awarded or not. The charities are demanding that the rules are changed, suggesting instead that:
No child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding, or being brainwashed into believing their abuser loved them and developing feelings for them
Much worse than just ignorance
The government needing to have this suggested is simply atrocious. To accuse a child of ‘consenting’ to sexual abuse will cause an immeasurable amount of damage. This not only applies to the children put through these sickening ordeals, but also to future victims who will live in fear of what they will be accused of if they speak out. It could even cause changes to the response of adults that victims reach out to, as the sexual abuse of children is clearly not being taken seriously enough.
Children are instructed to trust adults; an attacker abusing that trust will always lead to severe psychological damage, no matter what the individual circumstances are. For a child to then find the strength to open up about what they have been through, despite the contradicting emotions and total confusion, is a huge feat. To then accuse a child of ‘consenting’ to the perversion they have been tortured with is not acceptable in any way.
One example that Victim Support highlighted was of a 12-year-old girl who was plied with alcohol by a 21-year-old man. He took her into the woods and raped her. The man pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13, yet the victim was denied compensation. This was decided because the victim had emerged “happily” from the woods and because she had previously had sex with a child her own age.
In another case, a gang of men were sentenced to 30 years in jail for raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old. She was denied compensation, and told she had “not been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts”.
This is an extremely disturbing judgement that shows no allowance for the mental immaturity of children. It fails to the consider the lack of sexual understanding that all children should be able to possess. It blames a child for the vile actions of an adult.
Is this what we want for our children?
The Tory government having this disgusting attitude towards victims of sexual abuse must disturb even their loyal followers.
An abused child already lives in fear of the accusations the attacker will bestow on them, which can discourage them from confiding in a trusted adult. Now they will also fear the accusations from the government, with the very people whose job it is to protect them judging their choices and claiming they were at fault in some way, rather than doing their job in looking after them.
This betrayal of vulnerable children is an injustice we should not stand for.
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