Yours Faithfully: We May Gain Justice at Last for Sex Abuse Victims

By Stephen Barber
Oxford Mail
July 20, 2015

Yours Faithfully: We may gain justice at last for sex abuse victims

The public inquiry into child sexual abuse has finally got off the ground.

At the third attempt, a chair was found: Justice Lowell Goddard, who is from New Zealand.

This means she is independent of the establishment in the UK, which could not be said of the previous candidates.

She is a judge, so used to hearing and assessing evidence.

She is a woman, which is important since some people suspect that some men do not take the sexual abuse of children as seriously as do most women.

The inquiry is into whether “public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for the Church of England to be examined first.

This is because we who work for the church know perfectly well that we have not always got it right, either in listening to survivors of abuse or in dealing effectively with perpetrators.

There are many reasons for this. It is very difficult for survivors to come forward and say what has happened to them.

Too often in the past, they have not been believed.

Even when they are, it is hard to bring perpetrators to justice.

How do you get beyond saying it is the word of one person against another? You need evidence.

The physical signs of abuse may last only a few hours while the abuse itself may have happened years ago.

So you need others to come forward, who have similar accounts to give but who are not connected with one another.

How will they know they will be listened to?

Happily, things are changing.

One effect of the Jimmy Savile case has been to encourage survivors of abuse to come forward.

Most offenders are not celebrities, they are more likely to be members of the family or extended family of the survivor.

Learning that celebrities can be convicted encourages other survivors to come forward.








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