Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) – Thoughts from a CSE Survivor regarding the extreme right trying to hijack this issue.

Communities nationwide are worried about a lack of transparency, meaningful progress and a willingness from service professionals and authorities to accept responsibility with regards to their failings on recent and historic CSE cases.

There has been a growing sense of miss trust and anger which the far right has capitalised on and identified as a propaganda/recruitment tool.

This had led to some survivors’ stories being hijacked by the far right (often against their wishes) in order to spread discrimination and recruit others into their ranks, thus further exploiting survivors.

Local communities are vulnerable to this, as many people are desperately looking for answers and assurance that lessons have been/will be learnt.

The far-right narrative aims to push accountability in the wrong places with many groups claiming that sexual abuse is a racial issue and that the whole Muslim community are complicit in. They also focus solely on white girls and disregard the horrific experiences of young people from other backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. The far right also ignore male abuse survivors.

Perpetrators of CSE are often in a position of power to the victim (movie star, millionaire, football coach, family member, religious leader, famous musician, social media influencer, TV personality, role model etc the list goes on). A key theme in many recent CSE case (eg so called “grooming gangs”, Benny Bennell and historic CSE cases in UK football and the Jeffery Epinstien scandal) is that victims were often extremely vulnerable and from complex backgrounds with little to no role models and an absence of primary caregivers such as parents.

It is not ethnicity or culture that determines how perpetrators identify their victims, it is usually class. Young people from working class backgrounds have less access to services, and due to labelling and stereotyping, tell-tale behaviours are usually brushed aside as bad behaviour. Further to this, working class young people are segregated from wider society which makes them extra vulnerable to been targeted. Authorities in the UK have long discriminated against and failed to listen to vulnerable working-class young people, which often mean things such as CSE can be missed, this is well documented.

It is important to remember that most sexual abusers in the UK are white, and also that CSE cases affect young women and men of all backgrounds and cultures.

Muslim survivors of CSE have mentioned that because they are often ignored, this can add to the shame they already feel in coming forward and seeking justice against the perpetrators. They can often feel that no one will listen or care about them as the media focus has been on white victims of such abuse.

There has been systemic failure of services to safeguard young people country wide. For example, recent CSE cases in West Yorkshire have been subject to a review into the failures of authorities. The interim report has been released and is conducted by Dr Peel.

The Peel report states that service professionals, including the police, pinned blame on two of the victims that came forward. Service professionals felt that the victims were merely behaving in an over sexualised manner and went as far as to record the girls’ statements about the abuse but took no action blaming certain behaviours on the service users.

Victim blaming, bias/labelling and lack of action feature predominantly in CSE cases, as does lack of accountability and poor decision making.

Such instances are completely unacceptable, for any professional to brush off potential safeguarding issues by blaming the victim is not good enough. This absolute failure in safeguarding has allowed prolific CSE cases to continue and has led to some perpetrators escaping justice.

Many far-right groups often claim to march against “grooming gangs”, but they will not address the large number of convicted paedophiles in their ranks or their casual misogyny towards women.

The majority of far right “protests” on grooming gangs are not grounded in legitimate community problems, and they should be labelled for what they often are…a far-right fascist march with the intention of targeting Muslims and other minority ethnic groups.

Survivors need genuine change and to be involved where possible in the conversations and reflections so that we can build a more cohesive structure that doesn’t just ignore the concerns of the people that have been affected by this issue. It is not just policy change that is needed, but indeed a change of culture among professionals too.

We stand with ALL survivors of CSE, and we won’t sit by and let the far-right further exploit survivors for their own selfish gains.

Love and Solidarity to all victims of CSE abuse.

Article by (Anon) CSE survivor and FLAF member.