Rape Crisis says it's time for Fiona Woolf to step down

31 Oct 2014

In response to the ongoing debate around Fiona Woolf’s suitability to lead an enquiry into child sexual abuse, Rape Crisis England & Wales spokesperson Katie Russell said:

“Rape Crisis England & Wales has no reason to question Fiona Woolf’s personal or professional integrity or her ability to lead this enquiry. 

The current debate is not and should not be about Fiona Woolf; it is about survivors of child sexual abuse.

Through our 40 years’ experience of providing frontline, independent services to women and girls in particular who have experienced sexual violence of any kind at any time, we know a lot about child sexual abuse and about the feelings of survivors.

Last year, our Rape Crisis network responded to over 150,000 confidential helpline calls and provided ongoing specialist support, counselling and advocacy to 43,000 individuals, a third of whom were adult survivors of child sexual abuse and 10% of whom were young people under the age of 16. 

These survivors’ experiences are of sustained sexual abuse that has been secret and hidden.

Their abusers have twisted the truth, manipulated and lied in order to continue abusing them, in order to get away with it. 

Any process to investigate and call to account such abusers, those who have got away with it for so long, needs to be the polar opposite of an experience of abuse; it needs to be as open and honest, as transparent and independent as possible in order to gain the trust and confidence of survivors.

What sexual abuse survivors are telling us now is that this has not so far been achieved, that the process has been tainted for them before the enquiry has even begun and that their trust has been compromised. 

And it is survivors’ trust that is paramount to this enquiry, over and above the credentials of any individual.

For this reason, Rape Crisis respectfully says that it is time for Fiona Woolf to step down.”