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To prevent child sex abuse, victims must not be seen as morally inferior

Published March 10, 2015 by misty534

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Care professionals failed to question prevailing social attitudes that the girls abused in Oxfordshire were ‘difficult’ and ‘undeserving’. Tackling this requires better training and support, not prosecution

It is regrettable that the aspect of the government’s response to the shocking disclosures about child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire that has got most attention is the intention to make it possible to prosecute social workers, police and other professionals for “wilful neglect” where it appears they have not acted on child abuse.

While this has obvious populist appeal it distracts us from the real issues. The complexities of how abused children’s experiences appear to professionals and of dealing with the exploitative tactics of gangs of offenders are such that it is highly unlikely that a charge of “wilful” neglect could ever be proven.

The tone of the Oxfordshire serious case review is altogether different from the government’s. It is a wise, insightful report that carefully and sympathetically analyses why it was that despite professional involvement, teenage girls were subjected to horrific sexual and physical abuse by a gang of at least seven men. It concludes that over many years professionals “on the ground worked relentlessly (if not always effectively) to fulfil their professional duties” and that ultimately it was their observations and persistence which brought the child sexual exploitation into the open. However, scores of professionals and organisations misread the signs and acted in ways that the victims and their families experienced as callous and indifferent.

Professional ignorance was central to what went wrong. I worked in social work at a time in the 1980s when child sexual abuse was barely recognised. By the 1990s major breakthroughs had occurred, levels of reporting increased and it felt like a good understanding of the dynamics of grooming, secrecy and the impact of sexual abuse had been established. The horrific disclosures in Oxfordshire,Rotherham and elsewhere are humbling. Professionals have been clueless in the face of the organised barbarism perpetrated on young women by groups of men. The Oxfordshire report describes how one girl was punished by being taken to a wood and raped by seven men. Left alone, hurt, crying and naked, the person she called for help was not her parents, social worker, police or an ambulance but one of the abusers who had just raped her.

Despite having been groomed, controlled and violated in ways that left them with no capacity to say “no” and with a fear-based loyalty to their abusers, the serious case review concludes that they were seen by professionals as “very difficult girls making bad choices”.

The perpetrators did not operate in a cultural vacuum. They tapped into the cruelly oppressive social attitudes that are typical towards children in, or on the edge of, care. Their victims were from troubled families who are despised within political discourse as “chavs”, “welfare scroungers” and “the undeserving”. It is their vulnerability and social positioning as morally inferior objects of disgust that makes gangs of abusers target them and professionals blame them.

In the Oxfordshire report, the familiar finding of a “lack of curiosity and rigour” by professionals who had the wrong “mindset” was a central failing. It is vital that multi-agency training and ongoing supervision help professionals learn about both the impact of abusers’ tactics and the complex dynamics that can wear down their own compassion and judgment, so that they can avoid blaming and giving up on abused children.

Change must occur from the top down, prejudice must be eliminated and workers given the skills and knowledge required to help very challenging children and families. If change doesn’t happen agencies must be held accountable, through staff performance reviews that already exist and by forced resignations at the top of organisations, as happened in Rotherham.

Once again we have been shamed into recognition of the limits of our capacity to understand and act humanely in the face of the brutality perpetrated on children. For genuine learning to occur professionals need support. Nothing must detract from the real issues and hard work required if children are to be adequately protected.

Harry Furguson

Paedophile targeted mum to groom her daughter, 15

Published July 28, 2013 by misty534

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A PAEDOPHILE started a relationship with a woman to get close to her 15-year-old daughter, a judge heard.

Paul Mitchell, of East Avenue, Oxford, was yesterday branded dangerous by a judge after he admitted breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

The 42-year-old was jailed for rape in June 1991 and has been repeatedly convicted of sexually assaulting teenage girls.

Tom Godfrey, prosecuting, said he indecently assaulted a girl aged 15 or under in 1987, a girl under 16 in 1999 and two 14-year-old girls in 2001.

He said in July last year he began a relationship with a woman from Liverpool he had met playing computer games on the internet.

The barrister said Mitchell found out the woman had three children, including a 15-year-old girl, and went to stay with the family on a number of occasions.

Mr Godfrey said during these visits the defendant’s focus was on his new partner’s daughter, who he followed around and started texting frequently.

He added: “On one occasion he followed her up to her room and she slammed the door in his face.

“After that she asked if she could have a lock on her door, which was duly done.”

Mr Godfrey told Judge Mary Jane Mowat the girl’s mother became concerned about Mitchell’s behaviour towards her daughter.

This included offering to take her out on trips and to a pop concert, as well as telling the 15-year-old he loved her in text messages, he explained.

Mr Godfrey said although nothing happened between Mitchell and the girl, his behaviour suggested “a plan that was thwarted before it got to its completion”.

The barrister also said that the defendant told his former partner he wanted to marry her and she now feels “used and taken advantage of”.

Imran Mahmood, defending, said his client had genuine feelings for the girl’s mother and had intended to marry her.

His behaviour breached his Sexual Offences Prevention Order in four ways – by lying to probation about where he was; by texting a girl under 16; by using the internet without restrictions; and by staying in a house where there was a girl under 16.

He has also repeatedly breached his order in the past. At Oxford Crown Court Judge Mowat sentenced him to three and a half years in prison.

She told him he had shown complete defiance of the court order, which will now continue indefinitely.

Judge Mowat said: “It goes without saying in my view given your record that you are dangerous and potentially a risk to children.

“It is very, very difficult to avoid the conclusion that your reason for starting a relationship with this woman was her daughter.”

 

Oxford Mail

Oxford paedophile gang jailed for life for crimes of ‘extreme depravity which took the soul’ of young girls

Published June 27, 2013 by misty534

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The five leading figures in the Oxford paedophile sex ring were jailed for life today for carrying out “true evil.”

At the head of a seven-strong gang, they displayed “extreme depravity” and in at least one case “took the soul” of their young girl victims.

In sentencing Judge Peter Rook QC praised the immense courage of the victims to give evidence at the Old Bailey despite knowing they would be accused by their abusers of lying about their terrible ordeals.

Mohammed Karrar, 38, was handed two life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years after being convicted of 18 charges.

His brother Bassam Karrar, 33, also received two life sentences of at least 15 years for nine charges.

The two ring leaders, the brothers  Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, both received three life sentences with a minimum of 17 years.

Kamar Jamil, 27, received a life sentence with a minimum of 12 years,  Zeeshan Ahmed, 27, and Assad Hussain, 32, were both jailed for seven years each.

All but Hussain were said by the judge to pose a serious future risk to young girls.

The gang had been convicted last month after the jury heard how the girl victims were drugged, raped, trafficked and used as prostitutes while supposedly in the safe-keeping of the local authority in Oxford.

The gang – five men of Pakistani origin and two from North Africa – were found guilty of more than 40 charges spanning eight years, including rape, trafficking and organising prostitution.

The verdicts had led to apologies by police and social workers for their failures to protect the young victims.

Some as young as 11, they had all been targeted because they were vulnerable, drinking and taking drugs.

Today some were back in court and wept as the paedophiles sentenced.

Said the judge: “These were crimes of the utmost gravity. You exploited and abused these highly vulnerable young girls. On occasions the depravity was extreme.”

Detailing the suffering of each young victim in turn, the judge said that they became “entangled in true evil.”

All of them have suffered mental scars as well as the physical abuse. In one case “you took her soul, she felt it had been ripped out and she hated herself.”

In all six girls were abused between the ages of 11 and 15 in the Cowley area of Oxford.

The victims were forced to relive their horrors in some of the most distressing witness evidence heard at the Old Bailey.

One after the other, they broke down as they described how they were groomed, beaten, betrayed and sold into prostitution around the country.

One told how, aged  11, she was branded by a trafficker and loaned to other abusers for £600 an hour.

He had used a heated hairpin to carve her flesh to mark her as his property.

Over five years she was repeatedly raped by large groups of men in what she described as “torture sex.”

She was so frightened of her attacker that she refused to give evidence for fear he would hurt her again.

It was only after she was given legal advice that Girl D agreed to tell her story from a videolink from another room in the building.

Another victim, Girl A, complained of her plight to police on two occasions but no one was charged.

A care home manager refused to pay her taxi fare when she returned after absconding. The then 14-year-old was driven back to Oxford to be raped.

The worker was later sacked and the privately-run home where girls were placed by Oxford county council was closed down.

In a hearing yesterday statements from some of the victims’ parents were read out to the court, which described how the men had ruined theirs and their daughters’ lives.

One of the girls had considered suicide while another suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse, which took place between 2004 and last year in the Oxford area.

One of the mothers wrote of how the family was even forced to leave their home leading to her daughter receiving a phone call in which she was threatened with having her face cut off, and members of her family having their throat slit and being decapitated.

 

London Evening Standard

Oxford paedophile gang ‘threatened to cut off victim’s face and behead her baby’

Published June 26, 2013 by misty534

Impact statements read at the Old Bailey today detailed threats made against the girls for reporting the violence to police

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A sadistic child sex gang threatened to cut off the face of one young victim and decapitate her baby, a court has heard.

Parents of the victims described the horrific impact the campaign of torture and abuse had on their children as a judge prepares to sentence members of the paedophile ring.

Impact statements read at the Old Bailey today detailed threats made against the girls for reporting the violence to police and how the rapes have caused “irrevocable” damage.

The emotional accounts also showed how the families felt let down by police and social services, who failed to stop the rapes sooner despite parents begging for help.

Last month seven men, of Pakistani and North African origin, were found guilty of abusing six white girls from 2004 until last year in Oxford.

A five-month trial heard the child sex slaves were groomed, plied with hard drugs and raped before being sold for sex to other paedophiles across the country.

They were beaten and subjected to violent sex acts with up to 10 men a night.

Noel Lucas QC, prosecuting, read a statement from the mum of Girl C, who was raped from age 13 to 15, saying: “I don’t think she will ever get over it.

“She lost almost all her secondary education and was subjected to unspeakable horrors. She suffers nightmares, panic attacks and increased depression.

“Despite being a victim she bears a great deal of shame and embarrassment for what happened.”

She added the family had to move from Oxford because of threats after police were told.

She said: “The day before we finally left, she had a phone call from one associate of the gang threatening to cut her face off, decapitate her baby and slit my throat.”

All of the girls were known to the care system and some had vanished more than 100 times but nothing was done to stop the abuse.

In his statement, the father of Girl A said his family had been devastated after his daughter got involved with the men aged just 12.

He would scour the streets of Oxford trying to find her when she went missing for days.

“What should have been the best years in her life were turned into the worst.

“A bright young girl became a secretive and a frightened young girl who lost all ambition for the future.”

He added: “I feel we did everything we could as parents, yet we were constantly made to feel like it was our fault.”

Girl A’s mother begged social services for help when the abuse was happening, but no action was taken until last year when police and Oxfordshire council launched Operation Bullfinch to bring down the gang.

She said: “I feel a sense of vindication by the court’s findings against these men but it doesn’t take away the burden, the feeling of being condescended to and just plain insulted by the professionals who dealt with us back in the throes of the abuse she was suffering.”

Police fear the gang had at least 60 victims and hundreds of paedophiles raped the victims during the horrific abuse.

Six of the defendants listened from the dock as Mr Lucas outlined some of the victim impact statements, but Mohammed Karrar, 38, refused to come up from the cells.

He was convicted last month along with his brother, Bassam Karrar, 34, and another set of brothers, Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, of charges including rape, trafficking and organising prostitution.

Kamar Jamil, 27, Assad Hussain, 32, and Zeeshan Ahmed, 28, were also convicted of abusing the girls.

Beginning mitigation of the defendants, Sally O’Neill, representing Jamil, told Judge Peter Rook that she wanted to give the men’s crimes a context as they were part of a “sordid, shameful and immoral world”.

“It was known to police and social services and, for whatever reason, there does not appear to have been any attempt to control it other than at the most superficial level,” she said.

They will all be sentenced tomorrow.

 

by Vicky Smith

‘Castrate paedophile’ says victims’ relative

Published April 17, 2013 by misty534

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THE relative of two sexual assault victims says he wants to “castrate” the man who abused his loved ones.

Robert Ind, of Normandy Crescent, Oxford, was jailed for three-and-a-half years at Oxford Crown Court this week.

The family of the two victims as well as a charity have condemned the sentence as “a slap in the face”.

The 65-year-old retired builder pleaded guilty to seven counts of child abuse, which took place between April 2005 and January 2012.

They included five counts of sexual assault relating to two girls and two counts of inciting one girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

The relative, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the victims, told the Oxford Mail that Ind abused two of his female relatives, one when she was just seven years old.

Both victims were often looked after by Ind and his wife, and he said both were abused by someone who his family put their trust in.

The relative said the secret shame of the betrayal caused one of the victims, now 15, to become withdrawn in her teens and damaged her relationship with family members.

He said: “We had a really, really close relationship until about two years ago when she began to withdraw herself from me. It’s affected her confidence.

“I could castrate him, I’m absolutely fuming. I’m in tears right now just thinking about it, it’s very upsetting.

“You always think it’s something which isn’t going to happen to you, to your family, it’s horrible.”

Reacting to the sentencing, he said he was “stunned” by the length of time Ind would spend behind bars.

He said: “I thought it would be five or six years. Three-and-a-half years is not long enough for what he’s done. He has broken my family. She [one of the victims] is going to have to deal with this for the rest of her life.”