I recently wrote an article of the broken law enforcement systems in many developing countries and how the poorest members of society suffer violence and are effectively outside of the law. An apology is in order.
I am about two-thirds of my way through a horrific book which outlines the problems of sexual exploitation of children in the United Kingdom and how the legal system seems to bring so few of the exploiters to justice.
UNTHINKABLE – by Kris Hollington
The shocking scandal of the UK sex traffickers
This is not a book review as such, though I have provided a Kindle link to the book. It is available to download in the UK for £1.49. I just want to highlight some of the issues raised by the book.
Why are there so few prosecutions?
The Barnado’s charity reported that in 2009 there were 2,756 children who were known to have been exploited in England and Wales. But there were only 89 convictions!
These are all children (mostly girls) under 16 years of age. They were exploited by men, who groomed them, pretended to love them, trapped them and sold them to be used by many different men. The children were vulnerable to various reasons. Some were in care, in foster homes or children’s homes. Some ran away from home.
It is hard to get convictions. ‘Clients’ will claim that they thought the girls were over 16. The girls do not make ideal witnesses because of character problems. The crown prosecution service are reluctant to prosecute if it is just one persons word against another.
The author of the book says:
The system currently in place to protect vulnerable children from sexual exploitation is so inadequate it is almost as if a sexual predator had designed it. It is contributing to the trafficking and abuse of children instead of preventing it.
The girls are often brainwashed into thinking is ‘all their fault’ and fail to see that they are the victims of a foul crime committed against them. They may be afraid to speak out because of threats of violence or misplaced loyalty to their pimps and exploiters.
In British law, any sexual act on a child under 16 is illegal, whether by family members, boyfriends or organised criminal groups. The book describes the experiences of girls as young as 12 or 13, who come under the power of ruthless men. It is simply a matter of multiple rape because children of that age cannot consent.
Final words from the book:
These girls feel as though they have nowhere to go. There are so many of them out there who need our help. They are on the run, all of them escaping, whether through drugs, drink, gangs or sexual exploitation.
Thousands of them. From towns, cities and hamlets all over the UK. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, every age,
They run to escape their childhoods. They run when they cannot take it anymore. Together, they would fill twenty large comprehensive schools.
They beg. They rob people, shops, businesses. They buy and sell drugs. They sell themselves. They buy and sell one another. They cheat, they steal. They run, again and again.
They cry. they get angry. They do not understand. They are not nice to look at, deal with or think about. Nobody knows what to do.
Police ignore them. People ignore them. The system ignores them.
Some of them die. Some are murdered. Some of them commit suicide. Some of them vanish.
Thousands are raped.
Some go home. Some stay in special homes. Some stay in shelters.
Some turn eighteen and it is even harder for people to understand.
They go to prison. There is no escape.
Society ignores them and society pays.
Society wishes the problem would go away.
Reading this book shocked me and made me angry. I am angry that our so-called civilised country could let down so many of our vulnerable children in such a dreadful way. I am angry that I have not been aware of the situation before. Why aren’t our politicians and newspapers screaming for action? why do we tolerate this?
I realise that many could not bring themselves to read this book. But I challenge you to read it and allow yourself to be deeply moved. Be stirred and influence others to be stirred. Only when the people say ‘enough is enough’ will there be the political will to tackle this appalling crime.
It’s all about justice. I don’t mean just locking people up, but I want a just a fair society where our children are protected and can flourish in communities which value them.