The BBC is currently airing a dramatisation of the Rochdale sexual abuse scandal in a 3 part series called ‘Three Girls’
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In 2012 it emerged that there was widespread sexual abuse of young girls in Rochdale, yet adequate action was not being taken to protect them. This ‘cover up’ sparked outrage from the public and an investigation followed.
It came to light that the lives of numerous young girls had been torn apart by the serious sexual abuse and beatings they suffered at the hands of a gang of men. Members of the public asked the question, “How on Earth was this allowed to continue for so long?” The public were shocked to learn the details of the extent of the abuse, exploitation and trafficking of young girls in Rochdale.
Investigation revealed that a culture of victim blaming was among the reasons cited by Social Services and the Police for failing to take rumours of the exploitation of young girls seriously.
The Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board criticised the local Police and Social Services of having a shocking inability to protect vulnerable young women in their area. With many coming from very poor backgrounds, the girls’ reports were ignored and their evidence deemed to be unreliable.
In 2015, an inquiry into sexual abuse in Rochdale was announced. But the scandal in Rochdale was not a one-off failure. More recently, a gang of men were convicted under very similar circumstances in Rotherham. It begs the question – is this happening elsewhere in the country? The scandal led to the entire Rotherham Council cabinet resigning and a report was prepared by Professor Alexis Jay, who now leads the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
‘Three Girls’ is based on the true story of what happened to girls in Rochdale. The approach taken has been described as sensitive and the story is told from the perspective of the girls involved. Some people have said that the first episode was too traumatic and viewers have complained that they were unable to continue to watch the show. Others commended the direct approach taken by the BBC and the way in which the reality of the experiences of these young girls was portrayed.
Specialist abuse lawyer, Rachel Thain says:
“I think it is important to remember that the difficult scenes from the show were the reality of life for the young girls involved in the Rochdale sex abuse scandal. This abuse did take place and, sadly, it is likely to be happening to a child somewhere in our country today.
As a society we must face this harsh reality head on. Shying away from the problem only serves to benefit the perpetrators of such abuse. They hide behind closed doors, behind the concerns that were not followed up and behind the people that turn a blind eye. By bringing these very real issues into our living rooms in an honest way, that is sensitive to the needs of victims of abuse, it can perhaps be possible to remove the taboo that still surround sexual abuse and give these individuals nowhere to hide.
Yes, we have come an awful long way in recent years in the realms of safeguarding and child protection, but we still have a very long way to go.
There are a further two episodes of this hard hitting drama. I am keen to see how this portrayal of the harrowing and true story of abuse in Rochdale develops.”