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No child can consent to sexual exploitation

Release Date: 07 Aug 2013

Barnardo’s condemns the comments by a Judge and a barrister who described a 13-year-old sexual abuse victim as 'predatory'.

Barnardo's believes that child sexual exploitation cases should be treated sensitively at all levels of the justice system. It is wrong to suggest that children who are sexually exploited encourage their abusers.

Following complaints, the Attorney General has agreed to look into the case.

Barnardo’s recently launched our Remember they are children campaign. We received over 30,000 signatures in support of our petition which stated that our legal system needs to Remember they are children and that no child can ever truly agree to being sexually exploited.

Barnardo's deputy director of strategy Alison Worsley said:

“Children can never truly consent to their own abuse. It is plain wrong to imply in any way that the experiences of sexually exploited children are something they bring on themselves.

“It is difficult to imagine the torment experienced by the vulnerable victims of crimes such as these. Many turn in on themselves and have feelings of shame and even self-loathing on top of the psychological scars inflicted by the abuser.

“It takes immense bravery for these young people to relive their ordeal in a court of law and we must not forget that it is the abuser who is guilty and not the victim.”

Also in response to Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge's, rejection of calls for specialist courts to deal with cases of child sexual exploitation. Barnardo's deputy director of strategy Alison Worsley said:

“It is vital that the special measures available to support vulnerable young witnesses in sexual offence cases are consistently applied.

“And while specialist training for judges is vitally important, it is also critical that all legal professionals involved in child sexual offence cases also receive specialist training.

“It takes immense bravery for child victims of sexual exploitation to relive their ordeal in court; the trauma they experience can be worse than the abuse itself, sometimes leading to self harm and suicidal thoughts.

“The criminal justice system must remember they are children.”

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