A couple from Leeds have been jailed for a total of eight years for forcing their teenage daughter to get married.
The pair were convicted in May after they tricked the 18-year-old into travelling to Bangladesh, before threatening her with violence if she did not marry her cousin.
In 2016 the defendants told their children they were travelling to a Bangladesh for a holiday to visit relatives. When they arrived in a remote village, the victim was told she was to be married to her cousin.
The teenager contacted the British High Commission and they collaborated with Bangladeshi authorities to bring her safely back to the UK.
In May, the parents were found guilty of forced marriage and using violence, threats and coercion.
Speaking at the time of the conviction in May, Michael Quinn from the CPS said: “This victim was cruelly and deliberately misled by her parents who were determined to take her to Bangladesh for a marriage she did not want. Once she was there, they told her that whether or not she agreed, she would be married, and that wedding arrangements were already in hand.
“When she refused, she was assaulted and threatened with further violence. She showed courage in contacting the authorities for help, and provided valuable assistance with the investigation and prosecution of these offences.
“This successful prosecution sends a clear message that forced marriage is a very serious crime and those responsible will be prosecuted.”
They will be prosecuted if the girl is as courageous as this one, otherwise, nothing will be done.
Yesterday, The Reykjanes District Court acquitted a man who had been charged with sexual violence against four children and one young man. The man was subsequently released, but he had been detained by police for more than six months. The verdict had not yet been posted on the court’s website last night, nor were lawyers willing to release it. The man was acquitted on all accounts.
The accused served as a support representative for Reykjavík Child Services, but the incidents he was accused of were not work-related. He was charged by the district prosecutor on May 11. The case received a great deal of attention, for an internal review of the Government Agency for Child Protection and the Reykjavík Welfare Division regarding how reports or tips to the Reykjavík Child services are to be handled, revealed that mistakes were made when officials failed to act in 2008, after the man was reported. The police, furthermore, admitted having made a mistake when the man’s alleged sexual violation was reported, by failing to look right away into what kind of employment he had. He, therefore, continued to work among children.
“In this case, there is not just one person filing charges, but five individuals, and not all of them are related,” Sævar Þór Jónsson, a lawyer and legal representative for two of the individuals who charged the man, told Morgunblaðið when the verdict was in.
“With regard to my clients, the testimony was very credible, records and more, but the judge did not believe there was basis for conviction,” Sævar added. He pointed out that the verdict describes his client’s testimony as credible, and that it states there is a probability of guilt. The judge noted, however, that the family of the client had had time to discuss the matter among them and that diminished the credibility of the case.
What a disgraceful decision! Because of incompetence by Child Services and the police, it took 10 years to prosecute the guy. Consequently, the testimony of 5 victims is regarded as less reliable than that of the defendant. The judge should resign and Iceland's judicial system should try entering the 21st century.
A spokesperson for Stígamót, an education and counseling center for survivors of sexual abuse and violence, would not comment on the verdict without having read it, and the same was true for the head of the Government Agency for Child Protection.
Colombian President Elect Ivan Duque pledged to step up efforts to fight sex trafficking in the tourist city of Cartagena, following the arrest of 18 people charged with the sexual exploitation of more than 250 women and girls.
Those arrested over the weekend include foreigners, hotel owners, policemen, a navy captain who forced his victims to tattoo his name on their bodies, and a Colombian woman known as ‘Madame’ who authorities say led a sex trafficking ring.
Charges include recruiting and selling girls aged 14 to 17 into the sex trade in Cartagena and abroad, and forcing them to have sex with locals and tourists. Cartagena, on the country’s Caribbean coast, attracts hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists a year to visit its colonial-era ramparts and squares. But the three-day sting operation, which ended on Sunday, has also exposed rampant child sex abuse.
“We will not allow Cartagena to become a sexual tourism destination,” Duque tweeted on Monday, promising to “attack human trafficking and the exploitation of women in our cities and tourist destinations.”
In separate tweets, Duque, who takes over the presidency on August 7, said those found guilty should receive the maximum prison sentences possible–up to 40 years–to help prevent such ‘atrocious’ crimes from recurring.
Over six months leading up to the bust, police and prosecutors collected evidence using hidden cameras in tourist areas, including hotels, squares and streets. It was one of the biggest operations to combat child sex trafficking and forced prostitution in Cartagena, authorities said.
In a statement, the attorney general’s office described the victims as “real slaves of the 21st century.” ‘Madame’ is charged with trafficking girls and young women abroad, in particular to nearby Caribbean islands, according to the attorney general’s office.
Traffickers would prey on girls and women living in Cartagena’s slums, promising them jobs and offering to arrange their passports and visas.
“When the victims arrived to the country where they hoped to work, they come across a very different reality,” the attorney general’s office said. “They were stripped of their documents, locked up and exploited sexually.”
Prosecutors are also investigating the ‘abhorrent’ case of a navy captain who, they said, has accepted the charges against him.
“There is abundant evidence that indicates that he located girls under the age of 14 on social networks, abused them, bought their silence, and ordered them to tattoo his name on parts of their bodies,” the attorney general’s office said.
Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez noted that many of the victims discovered during the operation were from neighbouring Venezuela. With their country embroiled in economic and political turmoil, about 672,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border since 2015, according to Colombian authorities.
Campaigners warn that many of the migrants are vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers, while some have joined the sex trade out of desperation.
NEW DELHI: When a seven-member team of young psychologists of the ‘Koshish Project’ of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) landed in Bihar last October for a social audit, they had little idea that they would end up exposing a sordid tale of sexual abuse of the scale that has surfaced.
sexual abuse would be prevalent at the institutions in Muzaffarpur. We built confidence with children, spoke to them like a friend and they opened up to us,” Mohd Tarique, who headed the team, told ET.
The three women members of the team interacted at length with many of the nearly 30 girls against whom sexual assault has been proven now. The team camped in Bihar for almost seven months, travelling to 110 institutions over 38 districts but making it a point not to accept any hospitality or even refreshments such as tea from any institution. The team members also ensured that they got to speak to the girls in private.
It was the report from TISS in May that blew the lid over the sexual abuse case, triggering a political storm and prompting the Nitish Kumar government to bring in the Central Bureau of Investigation. A team led by CBI inspector Vibha Kumari has landed in Muzaffarpur to begin a probe.
The TISS team was given a mandate by the Bihar government in July last year to do a social audit of all 110 government-run or supported institutions in the state that house a range of people such as old-age homes, children homes, adoption centres and rehabilitation centres of people into begging.
“One must credit the Bihar government for having this social audit, which is not compulsory under law. Or this large-scale sexual abuse would have not come to light. Every state may not be so confident as to say come and audit our institutions. We need to make these places safe for our children and quick action followed our report,” said Tarique.
“The most critical part is having a conversation with the people housed at these institutions. We focused on individuals as well as small and big groups of them, trying to understand their experience,” said Tarique. “Sexual abuse is something that especially the children are not very vocal about. They are not able to share it very easily. It wasn’t upfront that all the children spoke about it but there were some children who shared that this was happening. Some used another girl’s name saying that it happened with that person. It was basically indicating more like a pattern or the environment of the place.”
The TISS team leader said that the most important part was the body language employed by him and his colleagues. “It is important how you carry yourself in the institution. Like if you enter the superintendent’s office and two children bringing in tea for you notice you are comfortable with him, they take the message to the barrack that there is no point in telling these people anything. We avoided that – no refreshments were accepted,” he said.
Tarique said that when the TISS team spoke to the children in private, they strictly disallowed any institution member to enter the room on any pretext. “We had to warn the staff that if they come in on any pretext, we will have to complain to the government. This gave the children the confidence to speak up,” he said. The TISS team would also never counter-check what children told them with the staff there immediately in front of them. “If you do so immediately, the moment you leave, the child would be reprimanded and beaten up,” he said.
The key was to be realistic with the children. “We told them we may not be able to change everything, we did not make tall promises. But we assured them that whatever they would tell us, we would report it and it would go to the highest authority. The children related to us when we clearly told them this is how much we will be able to do and what we will not be able to do. Our mandate was not to investigate a crime – it is something we stumbled upon,” Tarique told ET.
He cited the example of some institutions having well-maintained registers that recorded minutes of meetings of children committees. “Two boys were part of the committee as per the register. Our team member talked separately to these boys to ask, ‘what did you decide in the last meeting’? We realised the boy had no idea about the committee,” he said.
TISS has recommended that children be made part of the evaluation process. “Till you do that, you are not going to be able to stop such abuse,” said Tarique. The team has also recommended that social audits be made compulsory. “Child protection officers focus mainly on the administrative side of a facility. Nobody spends time with users of the facility,” said Tarique.
A Meath man has been jailed for two years for the rape and sexual assault of his younger sister on their family farm and home which has been described as “a house where sexual abuse was culture”.
The 46-year-old man was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury last March on two charges of sexual assault and one of rape on dates between August 1987 and September 1988.
The girl was aged between 11 and 12 years old at the time, while her brother was four years older. The court heard she was able to date the incidences by reference to her own confirmation and her sister's wedding.
Their older brother was convicted last January, following a separate Central Criminal Court trial, of four counts of raping and three counts of sexually assaulting another sister at various locations between 1983 and 1990. He was sentenced to 10 years with the final two and half years suspended last March.
Colman Fitzgerald SC, defending the 46-year-old accused told Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh that the family home was “a house where sexual abuse was culture. A very unwell and dysfunctional household.”
A local garda agreed with him that his client told gardaí in interview that he had also been abused by his brother. He said in interview, following his arrest on these allegations, that something had happened him with his brother that “should not have” and he went into his sister's room and tried to have sex with her.
The man maintains though that the incidences which his sister reported to gardaí didn't happen. The garda confirmed that the woman also referred to her brother telling her during a rape that “an adult had said it was OK”.
Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh sentenced the man to five years in prison with the final three years suspended. She said there was no need for post release supervision as the man had not come to garda attention since the offence.
She noted that such abuse on a child by a family member, as evidenced by the woman's victim impact statement, “can seriously interfere” with their long term development. “The development of their sexuality and how that impacts on intimacy in later life, trust issues and their relationships with other family members, as it goes to the heart of the family,” Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh said.
The judge said that it was a “significant fact” that this was clearly the offending of a person who was a juvenile at the time “in the context of a very sad set of family dynamics”.
“The boundaries of behaviour in the sexual sphere may have been blurred,” the judge said before she added that she had to picture what a court would have done if he had come before the court when he was 15 years old.
She said a psychological report concluded that he was at a low risk of re-offending and that his mental functioning was “at a relatively low level”. Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh made a recommendation that the man not serve his sentence in the same prison as his brother following a submission by Mr Fitzgerald.
The now 42-year-old woman's victim impact report was read into the record by Carl Hanahoe BL, prosecuting. She said everything before the abuse was “an adventure” but the abuse “took the enjoyment out of her youth”. She described being filled with shame and secrecy and felt cut off from her loved ones.
“I knew it was wrong, it felt wrong,” the woman said. She said her brother “taunted and intimidated her” and his comments on her breasts; “guys like big boobs”, disgusted her and made her very conscious of them.
The woman said being abused destroyed her marriage because she was unable to connect with her husband intimately. She said she disclosed the abuse to her husband but yet continued to assist her brother with errands and lifts because she wanted to act as if everything was normal. This behaviour frustrated her husband and they have since separated.
She said during her college years she didn't want to go home at weekends and would think of excuses not to be there. “I am very sad that I lost many valuable years with my mother. It broke my heart telling her what had happened to me. It impacted our family life. It brought shame and embarrassment and split our family apart,” the woman continued.
She also spoke of a sense of loss when she observed other brother and sister relationships. “I feel he has no true remorse or regret, no awareness of the toil of his actions. I want him to admit what he has done. I want him to get whatever help he needs to make sure this doesn't happen again,” the woman's statement concluded.
Counsel handed in a booklet of reports and testimonials and told Ms Justice Ni Raifeartaigh that his client still maintains his position of innocence. A woman, who described the man as her best friend, gave evidence as a character reference.
She said she had known him for seven years and although she was aware of his conviction, she believed he was a fantastic father to his daughter and had allowed him to mind her own children on several occasions. “He is a gentleman. I am supporting him 100%. I would never have thought he was capable of this. He is a kind, honest and loving man,” the woman told Mr Fitzgerald.
She said she was shocked and devastated when she heard of the allegations. Mr Fitzgerald said his client has not been allowed to see his daughter since he was convicted.
To the listeners of the Joe Duffy show;
Following on from your show last Monday where a wife wrote in to speak of her harrowing shock in discovering her husband had been accessing child abuse images and videos online and a perpetrator speaking on the show Tuesday. Myself and a group of others have felt obliged to write to you to tell you our collective story.
At different stages in 2016, four houses where raided by the Gardaí on the suspicion that men (both young and old) living in these homes with their families where suspected of accessing child sexual abuse images/ videos online.
In each house when the Gardaí finished seizing computers, lap tops and phones left, and the front door closed, four families descended into what I can only describe as hell and disbelief. Each family feeling isolated, shocked and lost in finding support or help, each family member of each home looking at their loved one, who was now an offender. These were people’s sons, brothers and fathers.
Each family sat alone in their homes, not knowing what to do or where to go, each putting on their brave face to continue numbly with their jobs, relationships and obligations as they could not talk to their friends, family members, employers etc for fear of judgement of being ‘guilty by association’ or ‘how could the family not know what was going on’, fear for their safety should a vigilante group learn of an offender residing in their community or a local community.
We collectively feared that our offending family members would be found dead after taking their own lives.
Families torn apart, in disbelief, experiencing hatred for someone they loved just the days and hours before that knock on the door from the Gardai. We grieved for the person we once knew, now we had what felt like a stranger in our home. We blamed ourselves ‘what did I do wrong?’, ‘how could I not have seen the signs this was happening?’
We all were very fortunate to find the One in Four organisation, that offered a treatment plan for offenders as part of their prevention strategy for child protection, they hold this at a secret location – again for fear of offenders being attacked. They offered a family support group for offenders engaged in this program and this is where we found each other. Finally after 18 months of group psychotherapy we understand that WE (FAMILY MEMBERS) DID NOTHING WRONG, WE ARE NOT TO BLAME.
It took us that long to accept we are innocent secondary victims of someone else’s abusive behaviour, but society won’t see it like that.
Despite our offending family members being caught within a timeframe of 5 months, we are all at different stages of the court system, one of whom is currently serving a sentence in prison for his offences. We are all still afraid for the safety of ourselves in our homes when our address is publicised in the national papers / apps/ circulated on social media and the safety of our offending family members in prison or when at home.
We are all living a life full of shame and fear. I would plead with the public to consider instead of inciting hate, try and understand families trying to ensure this never happens again by supporting the person in treatment and committing to a life of supervision of a family member to protect children, not hurt them.
In addition to our story we would like to highlight to the listeners who may have children with Smartphones, in today’s age of teenagers, it is common place for young people to swap naked pictures between themselves. Greater awareness to young people and parents that young people with naked pictures of under 17 year olds are in possession of child pornography, and if they send to a friend, it’s a distribution charge added to that. Child protection is struggling to keep up with technology and we need to do everything we can to educate and protect the children / young people of this country.
Four heart broken families
My heart breaks every day doing this blog and knowing that the dozen or so perverts that I post about all have families of some sort and everyone in their family is affected by their perversion becoming public knowledge even if they were never touched by the pervert. So much shame and embarrassment, especially for teenagers. I wish people would think of the consequences to their families before heading down that disgraceful path.
by James Rippingale, Al Jazeera
London, England - Sexual abuse and exploitation of some of the world's most vulnerable people by humanitarian workers is "endemic", according to a new report by British members of parliament.
Released on Tuesday following an inquiry by the International Development Committee, the report said: "the ease with which individuals known to be predatory and potentially dangerous have been able to move around the aid sector undetected is cause for deep concern and alarm."
For many living in crisis zones, sexual abuse by humanitarian staff is an everyday reality, according to victim testimonies gathered by Corinna Csaky, an international child development consultant who presented their accounts to the House of Commons.
"The people who are raping us and the people in the office are the same people," said a young Haitian girl interviewed by Csaky.
More than half of the 341 interviewees from South Sudan, Haiti and Ivory Coast recalled incidences of sexual coercion, with 250 of them aged between 10 and 17. Over half were girls.
"Without the protection and support from parents, many are using transactional sex just to survive," said Csaky.
"Abusers are both foreign and national staff. Some come from overseas, but many more are local people employed by international humanitarian organisations … From the perspective of victims and survivors, there is no difference between the two."
Victim and survivor approach
But victim testimonies do not convey the full scope of the problem. Speaking out carries huge risk and little reward, creating a culture of silence around the abused and relative impunity for abusers.
Virginity also carries immense social currency and raped girls are often sold off or married to attackers: victim stigmatisation causing dire economic consequences, the potential for further violence and deep psychological wounds.
In a statement at the House of Commons prior to the report's release, Save The Children's Chief Executive Watkins admitted: "We have very clear standards for what we do in water and sanitation or for how to build a school. Do we really have the same frameworks for safeguarding provision or trauma and counselling support? The answer is that no, we do not."
Csaky's primary recommendation - taken from victims themselves - is to build confidence in speaking out safely. Helping channel the belief that reporting incidents will bring positive change as well as effective medical, psychosocial and legal support.
"A victim and survivor approach is absolutely critical. Without this, you are designing a system in a vacuum that, essentially, nobody will use," said Csaky.
The report also focused on the scandals of Oxfam and Save The Children, which entered into formal inquiry via parliament's Charity Commission on February 12 and 11 April 2018.
In the case of Oxfam, revelations unfolded after top-level staff - including Haiti relief operations manager Roland van Hauwermeiren, were accused of paying Haitian earthquake survivors for sex in 2011, swiftly followed by similar accusations dating back to 2006 in Chad, a relief effort which van Hauwermeiren also led.
Earlier this year, Save The Children's former chief executive Justin Forsyth and chief strategist Brendan Cox were accused of sexual misconduct against three female employees between 2012 and 2015. Cox resigned before an internal disciplinary panel amid the allegations in 2015. Forsyth quit four months later, moving on to become UNICEF's deputy executive director - a position he later resigned from in February, citing his past coverage as damaging to the charity.
However, with major reports on humanitarian exploitation produced by the UNCHR in 2002 and Save The Children in 2008 continually recommending stringent safeguards, the absence of concrete policy as well as the UN's "lack of coherence" in their investigative approach presents stark evidence that little progress has been made, the report said.
'Stand up for rights'
Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, suggested the commission's regulatory powers could be strengthened if serious-incident reporting were made statutory. "We seek to encourage more and more charities to comply with that but we cannot enforce it."
Mandatory incident reporting applies only to charities generating over 25,000 British pounds ($32,700) . With 17,000 smaller charities of the 168,000 registered by the Charity Commission as working overseas, incidents are thinly monitored - despite them being awarded five million British pounds ($6.5m) by the British government for the increased workload spurred on by the Oxfam and Save The Children scandals.
"We are very conscious of the need to make sure that we are encouraging and supporting the smaller charities while still holding them to account," said Michelle Russell, the commission's director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement.
But what do the Charity Commission's suggestions for "robust" incident response frameworks or donor welcome packs for increased transparency mean for those vulnerable to abuse, living amidst squalor and destitution?
The report stated "a failure to listen to and consider the needs of victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse will engender a response that is not only ineffective, but potentially harmful," adding that "it is important that whistleblowing systems exist for the instances when the established reporting mechanisms fail."
The primary focus should centre on those affected - those on the ragged edge of humanitarian crises, said Csaky. Working from the ground up to embolden their voices, strengthened by statutory staff protocols, screening procedures and most importantly, education, she added.
"Many of [the victims] said, 'if we knew about our rights we would know how to stand up for them.' They do not know that this is not an inevitable fact of life."