The scale of historical sexual abuse in the UK is a catastrophe. We need catharsis. by Beatrix Campbell
Lowell Goddard has told us what we know – that sexual crimes against children are too big, too tolerated and altogether too much. Goddard, the New Zealand judge who resigned from the inquiry into historical child abuse last month, said in a memo to MPs that there was “an inherent problem in the sheer scale and size of the inquiry”.
It was set up in 2014 after a tsunami of scandal: the deaths of prolific but protected abusers, BBC DJ Jimmy Savile and Liberal politician Cyril Smith, and longstanding suspicions about other Westminster politicians. Speculation about organised networks of men sexually exploiting children amplified the clamour to do something. The inquiry announced 13 initial investigations. Goddard is the third chair to step down, after the previous two appointees resigned. Her memo, drawing attention to the unmanageable scale of the problem, has encouraged cynicism and scepticism, but scale should be no deterrent. Nor should the shame that suffocates survivors of sexual assault.
Victims and survivors don’t expect and don’t get justice. The great American specialist in crimes of sexual domination, Judith Lewis Herman, warns that the perpetrator’s goal is to maintain domination by terrorising and shaming. It is this “dishonouring” of victims, she argues, that makes sexual abuse “so impervious to the formal remedies of the law”. ...
This article first appeared in the Guardian on 12.9.16. You can find the full text of the article here.
Inspired by our participation with the Write to End Violence Against Women awards organised by Zero Tolerance, we are now collecting examples of good journalism about domestic and sexual violence and abuse to make it clear that it is possible to write about DSVA without resorting to myths, misrepresentations, minimisation and victim blaming.
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