Socialist Worker

After Rotherham verdicts, survivor vows to fight for the whole truth

After a jury delivered its verdict in a trial relating to child sexual exploitation offences, Jessica, one of the survivors, told Socialist Worker that there's more to come out about why children were not protected

Issue No. 2492

Jessica, a survivor of abuse in Rotherham

Jessica, a survivor of abuse in Rotherham (Pic: Socialist Worker)


"After the verdicts came out I was in shock. At first there was no emotion at all. But then I heard an interview that myself and some others did and I started crying. I think it's starting to hit me.

I do think survivors are being listened to a bit more now, and there's more awareness in Rotherham. But Rotherham is still a mess. And of course abuse is still going on. There's a lot more work that needs to be done.

If people think that Rotherham's been exposed - no chance. This is the start of it now.

Once the court case started I thought everything would come out in the open. But there were a lot of things that didn't come out in court because they weren't legally allowed to.

I found that quite frustrating.

For me the trial wasn't just about getting justice, it was about getting the truth out there. It confirmed a lot of what we've been hearing since we've been speaking out.

I'm glad the truth about what police officers were doing, how they were treating us, and the fact that they were involved has come out into the open.

The IPCC is investigating officers, but there are going to be a lot of people who get away with what they've done. I think the professionals who were involved and covered it up need to face charges as well.

Evidence

I'm not that hopeful about the IPCC. When I went to do my statements one of them said, it has to go on evidence and there's been a lot of evidence that's no longer there, so everyone's not going to get done for it.

I'm not going to hold my breath, but I want to stay positive.

I think professionals need so much training but there's only so much training you can give. If you still can't treat people right, after everything that's happened in Rotherham, you obviously need a change of career.

I had to report an incident in the early hours of the morning a few months ago. I rang 999 as I thought somebody was getting in my house as all my alarms went off.

It took them an hour and 45 minutes to get to me.

I've got two tags - one on me, one on my son. I told them I was a witness in Operation Clover and the trial was about to start.

They said it was probably wind that set off the alarms. And they said they'd wait for the officers to come on the morning shift. I should've had a whole police force at my front door within minutes, but it wasn't done.

It's hard to ask people to come forward if they feel the issue is still not treated properly

But the more of us that come forward, the more that will be done. The more of us that there are, the more we can achieve.

The abuse had a massive effect on me. When I stopped contact with my abuser, the sexual and physical abuse might have stopped. But the effect mentally stays with you.

For many years, I was very angry. I suffered major depression. I got eating disorders that I'm still trying to tackle.

I missed a lot of education, so that affected me career-wise. It had a massive effect on my family as well, with my relationships, friendships.

When I realised I was a victim, I felt worthless and disgusted. But at the same time I felt a bit of relief as how I'd been in my life started to make sense.

People need the right support to deal with this. There needs to be a lot more funding going into support services. Professionals need regular training to understand grooming, to understand why we keep going back. They need to be working with victims and families. There's nobody better than us to say what we need.

We need to keep fighting, keep campaigning. The more people that come forward, the more the truth will come out."


Jury delivers verdicts in Rotherham abuse trial that raised serious questions about police

By Sadie Robinson

A jury has found three men and two women guilty of 45 offences relating to child sexual exploitation.

The offences were carried out against girls and young women living in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, between 1987 and 2003.

The trial exposed the authorities' disregard for the plight of victims who suffered abuse over a number of years. Evidence in the trial repeatedly raised serious questions about links between police officers and the abusers.

Brothers Arshid Hussain and Basharat Hussain were found guilty of 38 offences between them including multiple rapes and indecent assaults.

Their brother Bannaras Hussain admitted ten charges including rape, indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the start of the trial.

Qurban Ali was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to rape and cleared of other charges he faced.

Karen MacGregor and Shelley Davies were found guilty of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

The six will be sentenced on Friday.

Brothers Majid Bostan and Sajid Bostan were cleared of all charges.

Women told the court that their abusers beat them, raped, them, assaulted them and threatened to kill them and their families. Victims described being trafficked them around Britain to be prostituted when they were young girls and threatened with violence if they refused.

Payment

One woman, known as Girl B, said Arshid Hussain had abused her from the age of 11 and given her to other men as "payment" for his debts.

She said she was forced to have sex with a number of men after being locked in Karen MacGregor's house for weeks.

The court heard that the authorities failed to protect victims despite clear evidence they were suffering abuse.

Prosecutors said of Girl B, "Her recollection is that the violence became a regular thing when she lived at the children's home and, seemingly, no one was interested in whether she returned in a bloodied state."

Girl B said she reported the abuse to detective constable Kenneth Dawes but that "nothing happened".

The mother of Girl B told the jury that police "were not interested" when she tried to report her daughter missing.

She said she found an exercise book in which her daughter had detailed the abuse she suffered. "I took it to the police and I told them to look at it, but they just gave it me back," she said.

Girl C said she tried to report abuse to a police officer when she was 12 years old. She said the officer took her out in a car to discuss her complaint. "He ripped up loads of paperwork and said I was lying," she said in a police interview.

Complainant Girl G said the authorities were aware of her abuse but failed to act. She said she had seen minutes of an Independent Police Complaints Commission meeting held on 6 June 2000.

She said seven police officers and four social workers were at the meeting and that it discussed her being "sexually exploited" by Arshid and Bannaras Hussain.

"If everybody knew, why did nobody do anything to stop it and help us?" she asked.

The trial raised questions about whether any links between police and those abusing children helped to allow the abuse to continue.

Detective

When asked how she came into contact with detective constable Kenneth Dawes Girl B said Dawes "used to come to houses where we were".

She added, "He used to have sex with girls and he used to take drugs from people and pass them on to Ash."

The jury heard that Arshid Hussain and Qurban Ali were known as Mad Ash and Blind Ash respectively.

The court also heard that Dawes had used the police database "without legitimate policing purpose" to search for Arshid Hussain, Basharat Hussain and a witness in the trial.

Another complainant, Girl D, said police officers passed information to abusers. She said, "How could I go to a police officer when they are just more involved with it, with them? The police basically gave them a free card to do what they wanted.

"How could us women go to police officers and tell them these things when they are going straight back to them? You couldn't."

In a police interview complainant Girl L said Basharat Hussain had information about a police safe house she was due to go to in order to escape him.

She said, "He said he had someone in CID to tell him these things. He would give them money and they would tell him what was happening with me and stop him getting busted."

Girl J said that one police officer was involved with a deal to help her abuser, Arshid Hussain, escape arrest.

She said PC Ali helped arrange for Hussain to drop her at a petrol station after she had been missing from home with him and that "he wouldn't be prosecuted".

Girl J said police would go to Hussain's house "quite a lot" and give him a "heads up" that officers were looking for Girl J.The court heard that evidence given to police relating to Girl J's abuse was "lost".

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is involved in 55 ongoing investigations into "allegations about how South Yorkshire Police dealt with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham".

David Greenwood is a solicitor representing 65 abuse survivors. Following the verdicts he said, "Whilst the verdicts are to be welcomed, today is not cause for celebration.

"Many of the girls who have been affected by sexual abuse by gangs in Rotherham will be reminded of their traumatic experiences.

"Only after a thorough investigations by the IPCC and the NCA will we be able to piece together the relationship (if any) between members of the gangs and certain police officers, and how this could have contributed to reports of abuse being ignored for so long."

 

 


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