Archive for the ‘News’ Category

IICSA failing victims

Sex abuse victims have been “utterly marginalised” by an inquiry set up to help them, one of the victims claimed.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is examining the extent to which religious groups and local authorities failed children.

Earlier this week a latest victims group – Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) – withdrew from the process.

The IICSA said it had “taken on board” a number of issues raised by SOIA.

SOIA said the group had taken the decision to withdraw “with regret” but said the inquiry was “not fit for purpose”.

Set up in 2014, the inquiry has been beset by controversy, with three chairwomen stepping down, lawyers quitting and victims losing faith in the process.

Newcastle Grooming Network Exposed

Seventeen men and one woman have been found guilty of involvement in a sex grooming network in Newcastle upon Tyne that plied vulnerable women and girls with drink and drugs before assaulting them.

In a series of four trials at Newcastle crown court, juries found the men guilty of a catalogue of nearly 100 offences – including rape, human trafficking, conspiracy to incite prostitution and drug supply – between 2011 and 2014.

The men befriended more than 20 victims and invited them to “sessions” at properties, mostly in the west end of the city. The girls were lured by the offer of alcohol and drugs, in particular mephedrone (“Mkat”) and cannabis, and were expected to offer sexual services in return for the substances.

The victims, all females between 13 and 25, were targeted because they were vulnerable and because they were less likely to complain because of their circumstances, the prosecution argued. The court heard accounts of young women who were drugged before waking up to find themselves undressed, having been sexually assaulted.

Rochdale grooming trial: Nine found guilty of child sex charges

Nine men have been convicted of being part of a child sexual exploitation ring in Greater Manchester.

The men, from Rochdale and Oldham, “groomed” girls, one as young as 13.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the men plied their victims with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.

The case, involving Asian defendants and white victims, sparked protests by far-right groups but police insist the grooming was not “racially motivated”.

The offences which centred on Heywood included rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.

Two of the defendants on trial, Qamar Shazad and Liaquat Shah both of Rochdale, were acquitted and walked free from court.

The court was told that the abuse, which began in 2008, took place at two takeaways in the town involving a group of men aged between 24 and 59. The takeaways are now under new management.


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Rapists escaping justice because police surgeons not up to job

(posed by model): Getty Images/PhotoAlto

Rape already arouses serious anxiety because so few attacks are reported to the police, conviction rates are low, and victims are subject to intrusive questioning in court. But now concerns are growing that rapists are escaping justice because doctors are failing to properly examine victims or record their injuries, depriving police of crucial forensic evidence. In other words, senior doctors fear that some forensic medical examiners (FMEs) are simply not up to the job.

Examining sexual assault victims requires skill, sensitivity and attention to detail, according to Dr George Fernie, president of the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine. He explains: “They could have bruising to the body or injuries to the genitalia, or bruising consistent with being grabbed by the upper arms and held, or a woman may have had her legs forced apart. The person needs to be carefully examined to ensure you don’t miss those injuries, and that you take the correct swabs for signs of an assailant’s DNA.”

Specialist police doctors or police surgeons, as forensic medical examiners are also known, look after the victims of crime as well as the health of suspects in custody. But Fernie is worried at the number of cases in which the forensic doctor has missed injuries, failed to take swabs, or has not documented their findings fully – undermining a prosecution. “The Crown Prosecution Service tell us that sometimes in a sexual assault case they can’t proceed with criminal charges because of poor- quality medical evidence,” says Fernie. “Some perpetrators are going free because there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute – because the examining doctor hasn’t done his job right.”   Read more…

Layla’s story: jailed after reporting a sexual assault


Sara Ibrahim says that since the day her little sister Layla was sent to prison, her family has been faced with a simple choice: “Do we give up and just get on with our lives, or do we clear her name? And we’ve decided if it takes the rest of our lives, that’s what we’ll do – we’ll clear her name.”

It was a couple of weeks after she reported being attacked in the early hours of a cold January morning in 2009 that Layla Ibrahim, then 21, noticed a change in the attitude of the police. Yes, the police had documented the injuries to the back of her head and breasts, the black eye, the bleeding from her vagina. They had listened closely as she described the two strangers who attacked her, how the main perpetrator had worn a Nike hoodie, how she thought she had temporarily lost consciousness after being knocked to the ground, how she had felt a “thud” in her vagina but had no clear recollection of what had happened.

The police had seemed sympathetic as she explained how she tried to fend off her attackers with a pair of blunt scissors, and how the second assailant grabbed hold of them and started cutting her hair. Layla told them how eventually she had made her way home, running and bawling, almost feral with fear. The case quickly became high profile, as the local newspaper reported that the police had set up an incident room staffed by 30-40 officers and described it as “one of the city’s biggest manhunts”.


Facebook ‘rape’ page to stay despite charity criticism

Facebook has been criticised for not removing a controversial page which victim support charities say trivialises and jokes about rape.

The group page, called “You know she’s playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway”, has 194,370 likes on the social networking site.

Victim support groups have called it “disgusting”.

Companies that advertise on Facebook have demanded their adverts be removed from the page.

Johnny Depp apologises over rape comment


Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp has apologised for “regretful” comments made in an interview, comparing photo shoots to being raped.

He told Vanity Fair magazine he found being photographed “just weird” and said: “You just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped. The whole thing.”

In a statement he apologised for “a poor choice of words on my part, in an effort to explain a feeling”.

It came after he was criticised by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

Speaking at the same interview, Depp, 48, added “whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it’s like – you just feel dumb”.

“It’s just so stupid,” he added.

Do men hold the key to fighting rape in South Africa?

“How many of you here have ever raped a woman?”

After a short silence two men gingerly raise their hands.

In towns and cities across South Africa, small groups of men, some of them confessed rapists, are meeting to talk about sexual violence, as part of a small but significant challenge to their country’s notorious record on rape.

This workshop is gathered at a sports centre in the deprived Johannesburg township of Alexandra.

“Most men are silent about this,” says Dumisani Rebombo, who is leading the workshop organised by the One Man Can Campaign.

But it is “vitally important” for men to play their part in tackling the rape crisis, he says.

Just as the participation of white people in the black struggle against apartheid in South Africa had added strength to that movement, men “must stand up and work with women” to combat rape, he told the BBC World Service.

Ex-soldier jailed for another rape

An ex-soldier who raped a woman while on licence after serving a prison term for another rape was jailed for seven years today.

 James Lang, 26, who was thrown out of the British Army after being convicted of rape while serving in Germany, attacked a drunk woman after a night out in his hometown of Torquay, Devon.

 He denied the offence but was convicted after the prosecution at his trial, backed by CCTV footage, argued his unconscious victim was too drunk to consent to sex with him.

The footage, shown at his four-day trial at Exeter Crown Court, showed him putting his teenage victim, whom he met in a club, over his shoulder and carrying her up a dark alley, where he raped her in a doorway in October last year.

 Sentencing him at the same court today, Judge Graham Cottle told the former Royal Logistics Corps lance corporal he attacked her in a place “as inconducive to consensual sex as one can imagine”.

 “She had no idea where she had been. She woke up there realising she had been raped.

 “If not a carbon copy (of his previous offence) it was very similar. You took advantage of a woman insensible through alcohol.

 “Your propensity to have sexual designs on women who have drunk too much is deeply worrying.”

 There was a disturbance in court after Lang was sentenced as one of his victim’s relatives tried to come face to face with him in the dock, but he was prevented from doing so by court staff.

The court heard that Lang, of Laburnum Street, Torquay, was jailed for four years in April 2008, reduced to three years on appeal, after raping a drunk woman in his room in British Army barracks in Osnabruck. She woke up and found him on top of her, before managing to escape and raise the alarm in the guardroom.

Rape crime figure differences revealed

New figures show wide disparities in the way that police forces in England and Wales record allegations of rape.

Data supplied to BBC News shows the proportion of rapes dismissed by the police as “no crime” varies between 2% and 30%.

Overall, the number of reports of rape classed as “no crime” has decreased.

The figures given to the BBC come four years after a watchdog warned that recorded crime figures for rape were skewed.

In its report, the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate warned that some reports of rape were being wrongly classified by police forces. In turn, there was a danger that these mistakes inflated perceptions of false allegations.

At the time, police in England and Wales classified almost 16% of reports of rapes as “no crime”. That figure has now fallen to under 12% – but data supplied by the Association of Chief Police Officers shows that the average hides wide variations.

While Gloucestershire Police recorded 2.4% of rapes as “no crime”, the figure for Kent was 30%, three times the rate in 2009. Surrey Police’s “no crime” figure was over 20%.

‘Figures insulting’

In a statement, Kent Police said the jump in its statistics came after a recent review of open cases.