What To Do With A Woman Who Provides Evidence Of Child Sexual Abuse?
- Sack Her!

Web editor, Chris Ingram, asks this question, provides details of a petition for justice; whilst coming up with his own answers as to what promotes such an appalling attitude towards women and girls in our society.

A sexual health worker, who led an NHS crisis team, Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team from 2004 to 2014 making 181 referrals for young victims of sexual crime between 2005 and 2011, was later sacked by her employer.

Pic: Sara RowbottomThe reason?  

Could it be because she accused her employers of ignoring numerous warnings that young girls in the Rochdale area were being subjected to sexual grooming, rape and sexual exploitation by dozens of men as far back as 2004?

Sara Rowbotham was the worker who, unlike the Police and Rochdale Social Services, believed the teenage girls who reported incidents to her that provided the evidence that they had been raped and sexually exploited. The response from the Police was to simply dismiss their claims accusing the victims of being prostitutes!

The case involving organised crime against their female victims by nine men in the Rochdale area has been given major publicity in the tabloid press, most of which was focused on the ethnicity of the men as Asian and calling for the sacking of social workers involved in the case.

Yet no one called for the dismissal of police officers who blatantly maligned the young girls, ignored their claims of sexual abuse; and indeed through such attitudes, merely prolonged the young victims suffering.

However, would there have been yet another victim of injustice by an employer?

In this case Greater Manchester Police, against their Detective Constable Margaret Oliver; who was instrumental in forcing them to take the evidence provided by Sara Rowbotham seriously enough to actually take action against the Rochdale men who were sexually abusing young girls for years?

In disgust at the treatment of the young victims by her own Police force, she resigned and became a consultant with the BBC to bring the case to the attention of the public via a TV drama.

Pic: Daily MailThe fate of the 'whistleblower' Sara Rowbotham was never disclosed until this year when in May, the BBC broadcast what was a very harrowing account of the events that occurred in Rochdale in a drama entitled 'Three Girls'.

The end titles gave away the appalling treatment that Sara's employers metered out to a woman who in fact should have been applauded publicly for the single-handed part she played in under covering the facts and realities of what was happening to vulnerable young girls in their communities.

Now, following thousands of viewers expressing their outrage at the sacking of Sara Rowbotham and the effects this has had upon her mental well-being, not to mention the message it sends to other as yet unknown victims of child sexual abuse; a petition demanding recognition for Sara and the work she did to expose one of the greatest evils in our society today, is garnering major support on the internet via the Change.org website.

But perhaps this interview with Sara which was transmitted on 21st May by the BBC's North West Tonight local news program, brings home the price to her life she has paid for defending and supporting victims of sexual abuse.


The wording of the petition, set up by mother of six, Katei Blezard  and the introduction to it; says it all:

"I recently watched the TV programme 3 Girls about Sara, the sexual health worker who was fundamental in collecting evidence involving the Rochdale Grooming Gangs.
As a mum of 6, I was disgusted by the way these young children were abused, and believe that Sara is a hero for standing up for them.

The evidence she collected, along with statements from the brave survivors of the abuse, was dismissed time & time again by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Years later some of the men were jailed because of this evidence, without a doubt without Sara & her team this prosecution would never of happened.

Sara was not only removed from her role as a Sexual Health Worker with young children she was later made redundant from her post.

The very lady who believed these children, supported these children, never once dismissed or gave up on them was then tossed aside!

No member of the GMP or CPS were ever held accountable for failing the children in Rochdale. Sara and her team paid the price for their failings, first they were excluded from further involvement of cases and then finally lost their jobs.

Sara and her team should be applauded, not only GMP & the CPS but the Government and Crown for her services for young people. Along with recognition for their work Sara and her team should be the highest advocates for future national guidance surrounding the grooming of children.

The children of Rochdale were failed time and time again along with Sara and her team!

Sign the petition to Greater Manchester Children's Service's, UK Government Bodies, and Greater Manchester Police in support of Sarah Rowbotham here

So what was the media response to this petition?

Well with over 30,000 signatures in less than 24 hours in support of Sara Rowbotham,
not a single media source had shared the petition!

One month later this comment, posted on the petition page poured scorn on the attitude of the public to such events as this:

Pic: The Guardian report on the Rowbottom petition"Not enough British People stand up for free speech and because of this the establishment ignore these abusive incidents. When will we learn that to stay silent means hurt and fear for someone, somewhere!."

It took until the 7th July - some two months after the transmission of the BBC drama, '3 Girls' for even the Manchester Evening News to report the existence of viewer outrage at the treatment of Sarah Rowbottom; and the subsequent petition.

This despite the fact that one national newspaper, The Guardian, had covered the setting up of the petition in it's 21st May on-line edition.

But why do so many in our society have an appalling attitude towards young girls and women in the first place?

Pic: Mail on Line news itemCould it have something to do with our media in its sexualisation of children and portrayal of women being no more than the sum total of their bodies?

Whilst there is absolutely no excuse for the attitude 'that all white girls are good for is...' as reportedly claimed by the likes of The Sun and The Daily Mail as being the predominant attitude amongst members of the Asian community; when you look at how such tabloids report on terrible crimes such as sexual grooming, rape, and the sexualisation of children, the question is - does our media play a part in encouraging such views as a result of the context in which the imagery is used?

You can practically guarantee that tabloids such as the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Express will place lurid images of women and even girls, adjacent to their reports of these sexual crimes.

Until we as consumers stop buying such misogynistic tabloid garbage and consuming it on-line, the editors of such media will continue claiming that their focus is merely a reflection of society rather than having any effect such as actually 'grooming' and 'promoting' the sexualisation of women and girls.

It is also clear that until attitudes towards whistleblowers and those who stand up against injustice and, in this case, inhumanity towards young girls and boys and the reluctance and ignorance of authorities in tackling it; the worst and most evil treatment of our young people in the UK in 2017 will simply continue to be mostly unchallenged.

But does the use of gender specific imagery matter you may ask?

Well, let's take just one picture used in the two banners behind speakers including former north west chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal, at a recent conference on tackling child sexual exploitation in all it's forms:

Despite the statistical fact that far more female children are sexually exploited than males, not that that minimises the trauma suffered by both genders or the severity of the crime; here we have images only of boy victims.

Is this done to make the issue more serious in the eyes of those attending such a conference or of society? Is there a danger it sends the message that crimes against boys are more serious than those against girls? It certainly tries to put such questions into the minds of viewers of such gender biased images.

After-all we all know that the use of language deferring to the male gender, does make the female disappear from the mind. E.G. the word 'Policeman' automatically puts an image of a male police officer in the mind, not that of a woman officer.

This seems to happen in many walks of life - the placement of a male image in a banner, advert or documentary; even in professions were there are more females, e.g. teachers and social workers.

The social media backlash when a woman is used to advertise a role which most believe is a male role was suddenly evident when engineer Isis Wenger put her name and image to a recruitment campaign:

It is also one of the mechanisms used to dismiss female achievements from history.

Referring to he or him and assuming that everyone knows it refers to both genders, is the usual dismissal of such arguments.

So why do we have words referring to female gender, her or she; that we are encouraged, indeed conditioned not to use?

We need to fight against the demeanification of women and girls in all its forms.

In the case of 'Three Girls', it is obvious that until attitudes towards whistleblowers and those who stand up against injustice and, in this case, inhumanity towards young girls and boys and the reluctance and ignorance of authorities in tackling it; the worst and most evil treatment of our young people in the UK in 2017 will simply continue to be mostly unchallenged.

Sign the petition to Greater Manchester Children's Service's, UK Government Bodies, and Greater Manchester Police in support of Sarah Rowbotham here

It is also worth noting the support being given by the CWU North West Regional Women's Committee to the women involved in the issues raised by the case.

Because of her continuing work since 2013 in getting media attention for the Rochdale sexual abuse case and subsequent work with the BBC, Margaret Oliver was a guest speaker at their 2014 Women of Today event, and they are hoping to have Sara Rowbottom as guest speaker to the same event next year.

Source: C Ingram / Change.org / Mail on Line / The Guardian / Daily Mirror / Chicargo Tribune / Karen Bosson, Chair NW Women's Committee

See also: Greater Manchester Police Vilified For Treatment Of Sexual Abuse Victims

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