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The findings of an independent inquiry into the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 girls in the town of Telford since the 1980s are truly devastating.
The report details the horrendous sexual abuse that generations of girls and young women suffered at the hands of adult men – abuse that will have long-lasting impacts on the wellbeing of the victims and survivors themselves, as well as their families and the wider community as a whole.
Not only that, the report also makes clear that we are a long way off from eradicating the rape culture that is so rampant in our society.
When searching for answers to such unthinkable crimes, it can be tempting to see them as isolated incidents. But, at Rape Crisis, we know that this simply isn’t true.
As the Independent Inquiry into Telford and the wider area shows, child rape and other forms of child sexual abuse remain widespread in England and Wales. The most violent and appalling crimes against girls were normalised and played down – and this is what we mean when we talk about rape culture.
In Telford, as in Rotherham, authorities knew what was happening. For decades, agencies dismissed the girls who had experienced repeated rape and abuse – and who had been deliberately targeted for their vulnerability and then groomed by perpetrators – as ‘child prostitutes’. Police, schools and councils viewed the rapes and sexual abuse of vulnerable girls as 'lifestyle choices' and did nothing.
And all of this combined to only embolden perpetrators more in the face of police and societal inaction.
At Rape Crisis, we stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of child rape and all other forms of sexual violence and abuse. We will listen to you and believe you. And we won't stop fighting for you until cases like Telford are never allowed to happen again.