HJ Talks about abuse

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Technology continues to evolve, faster than our laws can keep up. Over the last few years, there have been increased concerns regarding the artificial intelligence known as 'Deep Fakes'. Deep Fakes is the term used to describe taking the face of someone and placing it in any image or video of choosing. Simply, you only need a picture of the individuals face. Surprisingly, some of these videos can look incredibly real. We have seen this in free apps such as 'Reface' which can be immediately downloaded to your phone. Such apps allow you to put your face on your favourite film character or make a still picture of you, or even have you sing or move.  For many this is humorous, to be a character in your favourite music video or film. We have all seen such videos on our friends or family’s social media accounts, where they have turned themselves into a Christmas character or A-List celebrity video. However, there is a much sinister and disturbing side to this technology. Anyone can create such videos using your image without your consent. This can then be uploaded to the internet immediately. Concerns regarding deep fakes include conflicting political statements, blackmail and fraud. Barack Obama’s voice has been used in such videos as well as videos using Donald Trump’s face. Statistics featured in the Huffington Post article note such videos are increasingly pornographic in nature, with 96% of deep fake clips featuring an image replacing that of a porn actor. During 2019, statistics found the number of videos online doubled in a year and of the 85,000 circulating online, 90 per cent are non-consensual porn featuring women and many included images/ or videos engaging in extreme acts of sexual violence. As noted above, this has included photographs of celebrities, politicians and regular individuals. Taylor Swift, Maisie Williams, Emma Watson, Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle, Boris Johnson and Mark Zuckerberg include just a few that have been victims of deep fakes technology. Just using one example, in 2017, a Reddit user made deep fake videos of ‘Maisie Williams’ and ‘Taylor Swift’ having sex. Within 8 weeks, it had 90,000 subscribers. Clearly the impact to victims can be significant both emotionally and financially if this impacts the victims career.  There can be huge embarrassment to the victim if this is widely shown with friends, family and/or work colleagues, especially if the viewer does not realise the imagery is a fake. As with revenge porn, there are a number of concerns including; who posted the content, proving they didn’t consent to this and having this removed from the site (or perhaps multiple sites). Many social media platforms including Pornhub, Facebook and Twitter have tried to ban them after public pressure. There are two new pieces of legislation, the EU’s Digital Services Act and the UK’s proposed Online Harms bill, which will hold platforms responsible for the content they host. However, this offers little support to the victim. In the UK, you can be prosecuted for harassment for making and distributing such images/videos. In May 2018, a 25-year-old male was jailed for 16 weeks and ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation for photoshopping pictures of a female intern to porn websites A campaign has been started called #MyImageMyChoice, calling for legal changes worldwide pushing for a global human rights solution to the problem by the Government creating world-leading intimate image abuse laws.  This is to focus on the violation of privacy and require an online consent for such imaginary to be placed online. At the start of March, the UK Law Commission published a consultation paper with testimonies from #MyImageMyChoice. It will therefore be a matter of time before we see what changes, regulations and further protective measures are put in place. If you believe you are a victim of deep fakes, contact the website administrators requesting this is removed without delay. You may also wish to report this to the police to investigate potential harassment charges against the perpetrator. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
In this podcast we discuss the recently published 'Nature of sexual assault by rape or penetration, England and Wales: year ending March 2020'. The report from the Office for National Statistics is concerned with: Information from the Crime Survey for England and Wales on the amount, type and nature of sexual assault by rape or penetration (including attempts) experienced since the age of 16 years.   It provides a very comprehensive picture of sexual offending as it more-or-less is now. Information was collected from the general public and following analysis there are some stark headlines which warrant further consideration: One in 40 women aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales experience rape or assault by penetration, including attempts, each year, ONS estimates suggest. Overall, 0.1% of men and 0.8% of women aged over 16 said they were victims of these crimes in the year to March 2020. Some 773,000 adults aged 16 to 74 said they were victims of any type of sexual assault during the same period. There were almost four times as many female victims of sexual assault as men, at 618,000, compared to 155,000. Non-reporting and reporting to the police Sexual offences are as the ONS noted often hidden crimes that are not reported to the police. The reasons for non-reporting  are often based in fear, shame, blackmail, and  a lack of appreciation that a complaint will be taken seriously by the authorities. Therefore, data held by the police can only provide a partial picture of the actual level of crime experienced. One of the strengths of the Crime Survey for England and Wales is that it covers many crimes that are not reported to the police. The year ending March 2020 Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 1.6 million adults aged 16 to 74 years had experienced sexual assault by rape or penetration (including attempts) since the age of 16 years. Of victims who experienced sexual assault by rape or penetration (including attempts) since the age of 16 years: almost half (49%) had been a victim more than once. fewer than one in six (16%) reported the assault to the police and of those that told someone but not the police, 40% stated embarrassment as a reason, 38% did not think the police could help, and 34% thought it would be humiliating. Victims who did tell the police did so primarily to prevent it happening to others (47%), although, believing it to be the right thing to do (44%) and wanting the perpetrator(s) punished (43%) were similarly common. As victim age increased, so did the number of victims telling the police: just 10% of 16- to 19-year-olds reported the assault to the police, compared with 27% of 35- to 44-year-olds). showed that the majority (69%) of victims told someone about the sexual assault by rape or penetration they had experienced since the age of 16 years. Victims were most likely to tell someone they knew personally (60%) victims were equally as likely to tell someone in an official position (28%) as another support professional or organisation (29%) about the assault experienced. Age and sex In the years ending March 2017 and March 2020 combined, the majority of victims who had experienced rape or assault by penetration since they were 16 years old reported that the perpetrator(s) were male (98%). Almost two-thirds (65%) reported that the perpetrator was a male aged between 20 and 39 years. Victims who experienced sexual assault by rape or penetration since the age of 16 years were most likely to be victimised by their partner or ex-partner (44%). This was closely followed by someone who was known to them other than a partner or family member (37%), which includes friends (12%) and dates (10%) Where does the offending occur? The most common location for rape or assault by penetration to occur was in the victim’s home (37%), followed by the perpetrator’s home (26%). The assault had taken place in a park, other open public space, car park or on the street for 9% of victims. Almost half of victims who reported the perpetrator was a stranger, said the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol when the sexual assault took place. Method used by perpetrator For over half (54%) of victims, physical force had been used by the perpetrator to try to make them have sex with them, with 10% reporting the perpetrator had choked or tried to strangle them. Over one-fifth (22%) of victims reported feeling frightened or that the perpetrator had threatened to hurt them, and in 6% of reported cases, threats to kill the victim were made by the perpetrator. Over a fifth (21%) of victims were either unconscious or asleep during the most recent incident of sexual assault by rape or penetration. Injuries Victims of sexual assault by rape or penetration (including attempts) since the age of 16 years were asked questions on physical injury and other, non-physical effects experienced as a result of the most recent incident of assault. Nearly two-fifths of victims (36%) reported that they suffered some sort of physical injury. The most common types of injuries were minor bruising or black eye (23%) and scratches (15%) Victims were presented with a list of other non-physical effects and were asked if they had suffered any of these as a result of the assault. For both men and women, the category most likely to be reported was “mental or emotional problems” (47% of male victims and 63% of female victims). Around one in ten victims (12% of men and 10% of women) said they had attempted suicide as a result. Conclusions Behind the numbers and statistics lie real people: victims and survivors each with their own story to tell. That must be an important reminder when trying to understand the figures and attempting to analyse  them, let alone draw conclusions.  Nevertheless, we attempt to do so…. It remains abundantly clear that victims are reluctant to come forward out of misplaced shame. Even in 2021 sexual abuse is still some thing of a taboo subject. There is a greater understanding of the issue but that does not necessarily correlate in to negating the very human feelings of embarrassment etc. Victims do not necessarily know what kind of reception that will receive when the contact the police: “How do I explain to a stranger what happened?”  There have been of course lurid media stories of victims being cross-examined in court and  having their reputations trashed. This only serves to re-enforce perceptions or misconceptions that reporting may have unwelcome consequences. Much of course has been achieved in helping victims come forward to complain and to be assisted in the criminal justice system, but the report shows there is still much to be done. The MOJ’s The code of practice for victims of crime and supporting public information materials  is an example of the steps that have been taken to support victims in the criminal justice system. Likewise important steps have been taken to assist victims in giving evidence for example through the pre-recording of their testimony. In previous podcasts we have discussed offending behaviour and changes in societal norms, for example the prevalence of “sexting”; the misuse of intimate pictures, and sex trafficking. Are we seeing these trends appearing in the statistics? One of the interesting figures concerns strangulation – another podcast subject, and we have seen moves to make this a particular offence. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
We recently discussed abuse in schools, specifically public boarding schools. We looked at how cases of sexual and physical abuse were still coming to light against teachers or staff despite more stringent safeguarding measures being introduced. We discussed liability and actions available to victims. However, in the last few weeks more and more reports have started to surface regarding abuse of pupils by other pupils in schools, in what has concerningly become dubbed ‘the rape culture’. Westminster School hit the headlines when ex pupils compiled a 21 page dossier of rape culture claims. The claims document how female pupils were harassed and abused on a daily basis, having been forced to perform sex acts on male pupils. Further allegations included teachers buying a sex toy for a pupil. A number of other disturbing allegations included projecting images of female pupils on the whiteboard and asking teachers if they would “smash or not”. Victims disclosed how alcohol was used to intoxicate students by other students to enable them to rape them. Other allegations including having trousers pulled down in front of others, groping, harassment and rape. Younger pupils were deemed “fresh meat” by older pupils and sixth formers. Highgate School has commissioned an immediate external review after a number of pupils walked out of the school, after allegations that the rape culture was tolerated by staff. The school has been criticised for not investigating or acting on allegations of abuse. Dulwich school pupils planned a protest march which was cancelled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic following a report in The Times of over 100 accounts of sexual abuse at the school. A number of other schools have also been linked to similar allegations including St Pauls; Eton; and Latymer Upper School. Many of the named schools have now commenced internal investigations. England’s children commissioner, Rachel de Souza, has now stated that serious claims of sexual violence and harassment in schools must be reported to police in a response. Ofsted have also confirmed they will look to investigate. Maybe if mandatory reporting was in place such a call would not be necessary? An online campaign called 'Everyone's Invited' has now also been set up to encourage users to post anonymous testimonies of the abuse they have suffered at school. All schools are expected to have sufficient safeguarding procedures to prevent abuse. If a school employee (such as a teacher) has committed abuse, it is possible to make a civil claim against the individual’s employer on the basis of vicarious liability if it can be established that the abuse occurred during the course of employment or in a relationship akin to employment. When abuse is committed by another pupil this becomes more complicated, especially if they are also a minor. Whether a successful claim could be brought against the school would depend on the facts of the individual case. If the school had been informed of complaints of ongoing sexual abuse/or witnessed this and failed to step in/prevent such, the school in question may be deemed liable in a civil claim. The following organisations are available to contact for support: Victim Support Line: Offering emotional and practical support for anyone who has been a victim of crime. Telephone: 0808 1689 111 victimsupport.org.uk Rape Crisis: Services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999 www.rapecrisis.org.uk  Survivors UK: Offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898 www.survivorsuk.org  NSPCC: help@nspcc.org.uk 0808 800 5000 Child Line: www.childline.org.uk/0800 1111 NAPAC: Offers support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse. www.napac.org.uk  We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
Recently, the Hugh James Abuse team discussed the surge in popularity of websites such as OnlyFans and Pornhub. We have also discussed the law in relation to revenge porn and the campaign ‘The Naked Threat’ in relation to threats to share intimate images. Sadly, with the increase in popularity of pornographic websites where anyone can upload images immediately with little background checks, more and more individuals are having images shared online without their consent. The question remains, are those participating in videos or images consenting to the same being shared online? Are the laws in that country or state being broken? Sadly, some victims will never know their private images have been shared for millions to see. There has also been much concern in relation to both sex trafficking and the uploading of child abuse pornography. In recent weeks, another female in the public eye, Georgia Harrison star from The Only Way is Essex and Love Island disclosed that her former boyfriend had posted a video of them having sexual intercourse online to OnlyFans, filmed without her knowledge and shared without her consent. She documented the difficulties she had when she contacted the OnlyFans site to have these images of her removed. Following this, people began to circulate the video on social media and Whatsapp. A number of newspapers and magazines highlighted why these images should not continue to be shared and the legal implications to those doing so. OnlyFans did remove the post and suspended the account it came from after an initial delay following significant public scrutiny. However, this begs the question, how many individuals are featured on this site without consent or knowledge? Once again this highlights the lack of background due diligence checks these companies complete when uploading new material. We will see in the coming weeks what changes OnlyFans will make and whether the person who did upload the images in question will face criminal prosecution. At the time of writing, the press has reported the individual has been charged with harassment, exposure and voyeurism.   Pornhub has over 3.5 billion visits each month. On 12 December 2020, the Company deleted over 10 million videos following a backlash over illegal and depraved content. There were 13 million videos prior to this, which shows the grand scale of the removal. The move finally came following an investigation by the New York Times, which revealed a large number of the site's porn videos featured underaged and sex-trafficked people.   The report also found Facebook removed 12.4 million images related to child exploitation in a three-month period. Twitter closed 264,000 accounts in six months for engaging in sexual exploitation of children. By contrast, Pornhub notes that the Internet Watch Foundation, an England-based non-profit that combats child sexual abuse imagery, reported only 118 instances of child sexual abuse imagery on its site over almost three years, Pornhub said “Eliminating illegal content is an ongoing battle for every modern content platform, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront,” The full report can be found here. Cosmopolitan reported on concerns regarding videos of genuine rapes and sexual assaults being posted.  The publication said “We must consider the ongoing impact for the victims and also whether disclosing such images online begins to normalise sexual abuse to the viewer.” At the time, a spokesperson for Pornhub said “Videos with these titles are more often legal, consensual videos catering to various user fantasies”.  Pornhub has largely been criticised for allowing videos to remain up without verifying that the participants consent to these images being shared online which is the common concern with OnlyFans. Although a minority of those sharing images without consent may have been punished within the criminal legal system, Pornhub largely remained unaccountable. Both major sponsors Visa and Mastercard have cut ties with Pornhub when news of the inappropriate videos was made public. Pornhub have now confirmed they have brought in what it claims are “the most comprehensive safeguards in user-generated platform history”.   In what can only be seen as a positive move, Pornhub has now banned unverified uploaders from posting new content as more stringent safeguarding put in place moving forward which is positive.  It will be of interest to see how sites like Pornhub and OnlyFans will continue to safeguard individuals from revenge porn and what steps they take to validate that the participants have consented.   There are still urgent calls to regulate the porn industry to protect those who work within the industry and those who have been exploited by it.  We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
In the last two weeks, we have seen the saddening news of another murder of a young woman in London. What followed was a huge police search using CCTV footage. It highlights once again, how unsafe our streets can be. In today’s podcast, we talk to Nick Gazzard who founded the 'Hollie Gazzard Trust' following his daughters death. This podcast was pre-recorded before the saddening death of Sarah Everard. Hollie Gazzard was murdered in 2014 outside her place of work by an ex-boyfriend at just 20 years old. Sadly, she had reported her concerns to the police two days before her death. Nick details in the podcast the controlling behaviour her ex-boyfriend displayed in the run up to her death. The Hollie Gazzard Trust was subsequently set up by her family to deliver programmes on domestic abuse and promoting healthy relationships in schools and colleges. A further aim is to raise awareness of stalking. In addition, the charity also funds hairdressing training for individuals. The charity also aims to tackle knife crime and anti-social behaviour, having funded several initiatives delivering workshops in schools and youth organisations. The charity has also developed a fantastic app called 'Hollie Guard'. The app allows the user to set up emergency contacts and is activated by the user, for example when walking home at night, so emergency contacts can see the users location. The app allows the user to set up numerous contacts who get a text alert if the user is in trouble, which is sent when the user shakes their phone. When activated, the phone will also begin to film and record audio. The footage is then saved in the cloud, therefore, even if the phone is stolen, the data will be kept. The app also has a 24/7 monitoring service which provides direct access to a dedicated emergency response team who are fully equipped to assess your situation and are trained in appropriate escalation procedures. During the podcast, Nick discusses some of the success stories that have already come from the use of the app. More information on the app and Holly Gazzard Trust can be found here. There are also a number of fantastic guides on the website for friends and family including workshops for the workplace. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
This week we talk to podcast guest Janitta Nichols, author and public speaker, highlighting the trauma and lasting impact of abuse on family generations. We discuss Janitta’s childhood and how her behaviour was shaped following the sexual and physical abuse she suffered from the age of 6, for many years. By the age of 16, Janitta had suffered over 300 sexual encounters by several men in her family, primarily her stepfather. Janitta discusses how the abuse made her question her identity and how she turned to drugs, gangs, and violence during her teenage years. She also discusses the impact on her own relationships with partners. Janitta subsequently started her career as a police officer and continued to witness abuse in the families she was seeing. Janitta was frustrated that in such short periods of time, she was unable to help individuals further or make further change. She was often left wondering what happened to the individuals she encountered through her job and whether they want on to seek or find help. In the podcast, Janitta discusses her ongoing struggle in adulthood to process what had happened to her which cumulated in her wanting to commit suicide and the impact this was also having on her relationship and children. Janitta discusses how she had struggled with therapy previously. She tells us how she made changes in her life and began to write her story, resurfacing memories she had pushed to the back of her mind for decades which became therapeutic. Janitta talks about the process she went through and the changes she saw in herself from this. This assisted her to find the strength to speak out and her ongoing journey towards healing. In our discussion, Janitta confirms how she discovered both her mother and grandmother were also abused and how this impacted her.   Janitta has now released novel "Secrets of My Mother”, which is the story of a brave teenager who risks it all to her save her family from their abusive stepfather. The novel focuses on manipulation and control in the family environment. You can find out more about Janitta here. If you are concerned about abuse you may be suffering or wish to discuss this and are under 18 your can contact Childline on 0800 1111. The Survivors Trust also provides support for sexual abuse victims. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
Over the years we have heard many accounts of children being abused in the Education sector. By now, it would be hoped that lessons had been learnt and sufficient safeguarding procedures would have been put in place to prevent history repeating itself. It must be pointed out that abuse in a school environment could include any staff member, teacher or even a pupil.  Abuse takes place in all types of schools including public, state, faith and special schools. Abuse can include physical, emotional or sexual and can be committed by both male and female perpetrators. Public boarding schools take the focus of this blog. Here, many children are away from home from potentially a very young age, placed in the trusted hands of the school for long periods of time, monitored by adults who are deemed safe and responsible to look after them. In November 2020, former teacher Matthew Mowbray from Eton College hit the headlines when he was charged with sexually assaulting three boys. Eton is a prestigious public school with formal pupils such as Prince William and Prince Harry, Hugh Laurie and David Cameron, to name just a few. Mowbray was dismissed from Eton after his arrest in May 2019. He appeared at Slough Magistrates' Court in November 2020 charged with offences including sexual assault, voyeurism and taking indecent photographs. The abuse period is understood to stem over 10 years. Mowbray would visit the students late at night when they were in bed. The abuse only came to light when another pupil told a housemaster what he had seen. Mowbray pleaded guilty to eight offences of the eighteen brought against him. In December 2020, Mowbray was found guilty of eight charges and was sentenced to five years imprisonment. At the time of writing this blog, Clifton College in Bristol also issued a public apology after a former teacher was jailed for taking indecent images of pupils in 2015. Sadly, yet again this is another school to add to the list where sexual abuse has been disclosed. In 2018, ITV broadcast documentary ‘Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame’ which revealed the true extent of abuse in UK’s boarding schools. Journalist and presenter, Alex Renton, was sexually abused as a young boy by his teacher, Mr Keane, at one of the country’s top boarding schools, Ashdown House in East Sussex. The broadcast investigated some of the private schools where paedophiles groomed and assaulted young boarders repeatedly, sometimes over decades. Schools which featured in the broadcast included; Sherborne Preparatory School where headteacher Robin Lindsay abused pupils over three decades between 1970s -1990s Loughton School Herefordshire where headmaster David Panter abused pupils St Aubyns East Sussex where teacher George Pilgram abused pupils In preparation for the documentary, ITV’s Exposure made Freedom of Information requests to every police force in the UK and 24 responded. The results from 2018 showed: Since 2012, 425 people have been accused of carrying out sexual attacks at UK boarding schools At the time there were at least 31 ongoing investigations. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) are finalising a report into the exploitation of children in residential schools. A public hearing on the second phase of the investigation took place in November 2020. The investigation is to explore how children and other agencies respond to allegations of sexual abuse by school staff and address broader questions of school culture governance, leadership, training and recruitment. IICSA has an Inquiry Information Line you can contact on 0800 917 1000. In December 2020, drama ‘A Teacher’ was released on BBC iPlayer. The drama played out the sexual relationship of a female teacher and male pupil. The 10-part series explored the significant impact on the pupil in later life and how it impacted his studies, relationships, and friendships. Importantly it focused on how the pupil did not realise he had been abused until years later. It is important to see such documentaries in the media to highlight that females in a position of power can abuse too. All schools are expected to have sufficient safeguarding procedures to prevent abuse. If a school employee has committed abuse, it is possible to make a civil claim against the individual’s employer under vicarious liability if it can be established the abuse occurred during the course of employment or in a relationship akin to employment. Schools and local authorities are insured against claims for childhood sexual abuse and therefore are more likely to be a viable Defendant in comparison to the individual abuser who may face multiple claims and have limited assets. The Defendant will depend on whether the school is a state or private school. The Local Authority is responsible for state schools and in a private school setting, responsibility lies with the owner or the governors of the school.   The following organisations are available to contact for support: Victim Support Line: Offering emotional and practical support for anyone who has been a victim of crime. Telephone: 0808 1689 111 victimsupport.org.uk Rape Crisis: Services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999 https://rapecrisis.org.uk/ Survivors UK: Offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898 https://www.survivorsuk.org/ NSPCC: help@nspcc.org.uk 0808 800 5000 Child Line: www.childline.org.uk/0800 1111 NAPAC: Offers support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse. www.napac.org.uk  We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
In this episode of HJ Talks About Abuse, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss the proposed new criminal offence of “non-fatal strangulation”. The offence was campaigned to be added to the Domestic Abuse Bill, as campaigned heavily by Baroness Newlove, but it appears instead it will be made a new offence under a police and sentencing bill in February 2021. Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland has been vocal regarding the Government support for this proposal. Studies indicate that around 3% to 10% of the adult population have been subjected to strangulation, but the figure rises to 50-68% for victims of recurring abuse. Two studies of intimate partner violence and sexual assaults found that strangulation was involved in 20% and 23% of cases. It is frequently used by domestic abuse perpetrators to control their partner with people who are subjected to it being seven times likelier to be killed by their partner. It is also the second most common cause of death for women as a result of domestic violence, after stabbing. The Crown Prosecution Service currently charge perpetrators of strangulation under common assault. It may also be considered as an offence under the 2015 Serious Crime Act as coercive or controlling behaviour. The Government’s has, therefore, had the view that the proposed new offence is unnecessary. However, significant campaigning has led to a change in the government stance. The Victim’s Commissioner and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, for example, have voiced their support for the proposal. It is argued that using the existing legislation of common assault minimises the seriousness of the crime and allows for perpetrators to receive a light sentence if charged at all. Common assault is a summary only offence that can be charged by police, whereas when domestic abuse is involved the matter should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The new offence is proposed to have a sentencing range of up to seven years in prison. Furthermore, having an appropriately named offence will also raise awareness of the risk and suffering that strangulation involves. References: Commissioners endorse non-fatal strangulation amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill – Victims Commissioner Strangling: Calls for a new non-fatal strangulation offence - BBC News
In this episode of The HJ Talks About Abuse Podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss Pakistan’s new anti-rape measure. At the end of 2020, a terrible crime was committed in Pakistan. A woman was gang-raped in front of her children after her car broke down on a motorway in Lahore. The woman had called the police when she ran out of fuel, but the incident occurred before she received any assistance. This occurred just days after a kidnapping, rape and murder of a five-year-old girl in Karachi. These crimes prompted outrage and protests in Pakistan, but this was fuelled further by the police appearing to victim blame by criticising the woman for travelling alone, late at night, without enough fuel and not on a safer highway. Legislation was proposed by the Prime Minister, Imran Khan and his cabinet, and in December 2020 the President signed it into law. Within the next couple of months, the Government will get the measure approved by Parliament and have it permanently passed into law. The legislation provides far tougher anti-rape rules than previously seen in Pakistan. It includes the establishment of special courts that must conclude trials of alleged rapists and issue verdicts within four months. It also prohibits the disclosure of the identity of rape victims and will create a national sex offenders’ register. Rape crisis cells will also be established to ensure victims undergo a specialist medical examination within six hours of reporting the incident. Officers who are found to be negligent in investigating rape cases could face a three-year prison sentence. One key criticism of the legislation, however, is that it allows for the chemical castration of serial rapists. Amnesty International have stated that “forced chemical castrations would violate Pakistan’s international and constitutional obligations to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Punishments like this will do nothing to fix a flawed criminal justice system.” The legislation importantly reflects the protests and outcries of the citizens in Pakistan and is an important step forward to improving the amount of sexual violence that occurs in Pakistan. More information can be found in the articles below: Pakistan anti-rape ordinance signed into law by president - BBC News Pakistan approves tough anti-rape law amid outcry over victim blaming | Pakistan | The Guardian Backlash in Pakistan as police appear to blame woman for gang rape | Rape and sexual assault | The Guardian We encourage anyone who has concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins or Feleena Grosvenor.
In this episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor explore the recent coverage regarding the statistics relating to sexual abuse and harassment taking place in Universities in England and Wales every year. It is estimated that there are 50,000 incidents of sexual abuse or harassment in universities every year. The figure, however, could be much higher as there has not been appropriate research and surveys into this subject in the UK. A recent book has been published called “Unsafe Spaces: Ending Sexual Abuse in Universities”. It addresses the extent of abuse and is critical of universities for failing their students and staff. The book states that the majority of universities seek to conceal the extent of the sexual misconduct instead of focusing on care and prevention. It appears that university policies are not well created or well implemented. Often there is no specialist person to develop these policies or to advise how to best support victims. Many universities actually use volunteers in this area. Some changes are starting to be made. For example, St Andrews University have in the last month launched a new website to report abuse and discrimination. Universities UK (UUK) which speaks for 140 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said it would be publishing guidance and recommendations on managing staff on student misconduct later this year. We will eagerly wait to see what proposals are made, and trust that openness and the safety and welfare of everyone on campus will be the top priority for university management. We encourage anyone who has concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins or Feleena Grosvenor. Sexual abuse at English and Welsh universities 'a public scandal' – study | Universities | The Guardian
In this episode of HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor explore the misconceptions surrounding male sexual abuse. An article was recently posted by the BBC regarding Willie Armstrong from the 'Red Hot Chilli Pipers', where he described treatment of men wearing kilts and it addressed some of the misconceptions. The article refers to incidents of “upskirting” which was made an offence in the UK last year after campaigning by Gina Martin. The article focused on women committing this crime and the perception that men are not sexually abused by women – that the acts are somehow not criminal because it is a female against a male rather than a male against a male or male against a female. This is something that has been seen over the years in films and television, such when a female teacher sexually assaults a male student. This, for example, is the premise to 2012 film “That’s My Boy” staring Adam Sandler. Survivors UK is a male rape and sexual abuse charity and it often attempts to dispel the common myths surrounding male sexual assault. The reality is that these myths can make it more difficult for a survivor. It increases their isolation and maintains the stigma which could belittle the trauma of their experience. A particularly harmful myth is that “erection or ejaculation during a sexual abuse means you wanted it or consented to it”. This is something which we have seen on many occasions in our work. The response does not indicate anything about your sexual orientation or imply the survivor wanted or enjoyed the assault. Some perpetrators use erection and ejaculation to increase their feeling or control over the survivor and to discourage them from disclosing the abuse. They use the myth to their benefit. For more information on this subject we direct you to the Survivors UK website. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch with Alan Collins or Feleena Grosvenor.  
In recent weeks we discussed the Church of England failings to protect individuals against abuse as established by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). We further discussed failures of the Church of England in respect of the abuse perpetrated by Bishop Hurbert Victor Whitsey. Today we turn to the Roman Catholic Church. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published their findings report after 7 weeks of public hearings. The full report can be found here. The report confirms between the period of 1970 and 2015, the Catholic Church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse in England and Wales. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations each year. However, as with all abuse figures, the true scale of abuse is likely to have been significantly higher. The report noted the changes brought about by Nolan and Cumberlege inquiries resulted in improvements over the years including more formal handling of reports of child sexual abuse, better training and greater cooperation with the statutory authorities. However, the report found this was in contrast, with slower progress in other areas. The report found leading Catholic Cardinal, Vincent Nichols, prioritised the reputation of the church' above his duty to sex assault victims. At the time of writing, Cardinal Nichols has refused to resign despite the report findings that he demonstrated 'no acknowledgement of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change'. This follows IICSA’s 2018 report in which he apologised for failing starting “We humbly ask forgiveness … for our slowness and defensiveness and for our neglect of both preventative and restorative actions”. The report has found that the Catholic Church repeatedly failed to support victims and survivors, while taking positive action to protect alleged perpetrators, including moving them to different parishes. The report highlighted the case of Father James Robinson, who was moved to another parish within the Archdiocese of Birmingham after complaints were first made against him. Robinson abused children between 1959 and 1983 before fleeing to the US. He was later jailed in 2010 for 21 years. At the time of his imprisonment, the church still refused to defrock him. The inquiry criticised that the Holy See and the Apostolic Nuncio because its ambassador to the UK, did not provide witness statements to the Inquiry despite repeated requests.  The lack of cooperation stands in direct contrast with Pope Francis’ statement in 2019, calling for “concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church”. The report makes 7 recommendations: Leadership - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Conference of Religious in England and Wales should each nominate a lead member of the clergy for safeguarding to provide leadership and oversight on safeguarding matters to their respective Conferences and the wider Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Training - Ensure that safeguarding training is mandatory for all staff and volunteers in roles where they work with children or victims and survivors of abuse. Compliance - Publish a clear framework for dealing with cases of non-compliance with safeguarding policies and procedures. That framework should identify who is responsible for dealing with issues of non-compliance at all levels of the Church, and include the measures or sanctions for non-compliance. External auditing - These independent reports should be published. Canon 1395 - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales should request that the Holy See redraft the canonical crimes relating to child sexual abuse as crimes against the child. Having a Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service website and policies and procedures manual Having a National Complaints policy and escalation process assessed by an independent adjudicator The final report is due to be put before Parliament in 2022.   We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch with Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
In this episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor explore the face mask exemption in relation to survivors of abuse. Although a vaccine is in sight, it is likely that face masks and coverings will be required for some time to come and it is important to raise awareness on this subject. Over several months’ rape survivor, Georgina Fallow, has been calling for the government to “educate” the public about face-covering exemptions and for guidance to be clearer in relation to why individuals may not be wearing a face covering. Ms Fallow wrote a letter to the government, which was co-signed by MP Bambos Charalambous and by charities including Mind, Mencap, Sense and Disability Rights UK, which asked the government to promote the Hidden Disabilities charity's Face Covering Exemption Card, and to launch an awareness campaign to publicise the exemptions. Ms Fallow explains that there are a number of people who simply cannot wear a mask due to the psychological harm it causes. She, for example, experiences traumatic flashbacks that are akin to hallucinations. She describes them as “so real as to effectively plunge me back into the worst of the experience”. The flashbacks can be so severe that police officers and paramedics have had to hold her down, sedate her and take her to hospital. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch with Alan Collins or Feleena Grosvenor.
A 13-year-old girl’s death hit the headlines in November of last year after she was raped and murdered by her family’s 25-year-old house lodger, Stephen Nicholson. Lucy McHugh was lured to local woodlands in Southampton in 2018. She was then raped and stabbed 27 times resulting in her death. The police inquiry into Lucy's death became one of the largest murder inquiries in criminal history with over 200 officers involved, spending over 1500 hours trawling through CCTV footage in the search for her killer. At trial, jurors heard Nicholson murdered Lucy after she threatened to reveal he had been sexually abusing her. Nicholson is now serving a 33-year prison sentence following his conviction for murdering Lucy and three counts of raping her when she was just 12 years old. He was also found guilty of one count of sexual activity with another girl, who was 14 years old. Following Lucy’s death, an independent report was commissioned by the Southampton Safeguarding Children Partnership. The report is heavily critical of both social services and the police for missing several chances to help Lucy.  Nicholson had past convictions for both battery and domestic violence. He then stole £1,000 while holding a blade to a female resident's throat and made off in a staff member's car, before being caught by police. While serving two years in a youth detention centre for that incident, he and two fellow inmates barricaded themselves in a canteen before he again armed himself with a knife and tried to stab a prison guard. The report found social services did not do enough to act on concerns raised by Lucy's school that she was being sexually exploited by an older boyfriend. Lead reviewer Moira Murray said social workers considered the concerns had “no foundation” because they were given “assurances” by Lucy’s mother. Ms Murray said a lack of information sharing between the council's Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (police, school and children's social care) was a "missed opportunity" and meant Lucy's case was not treated as one of child protection. The service, which is intended to 'protect the most vulnerable children from harm, neglect and abuse', upon receipt of a referral should identify 'the needs, and the child or family will be referred or signposted to the relevant contact or information'. However, the report says this did not happen and schools concerns, which were raised by teachers, did not pass the first stages of the referral. It was also revealed that the city council's Children's Social Care team was aware of Nicholson's convictions, but this information was neither acted upon, nor shared. Sadly, if the safeguarding processes were followed, they may have unearthed details of Nicholson's relationship with Lucy and potentially prevented her death. Hampshire Police's Supt Kelly Whiting, district commander for Southampton, said the force was 'identifying improvements following this tragic death'. He added: 'The training of officers reflects the need to understand the complex impact of adverse childhood experiences. As part of this, we are already developing a trauma informed approach to dealing with all incidents involving children. 'We will continue to work with our safeguarding partners to further improve the way we protect vulnerable children.' The city council's executive director of children's wellbeing, Rob Henderson, said the authority 'remains deeply saddened by this tragic case'. He added: 'On behalf of the council I would like to apologise to the victim's family, friends, and all who knew her, for the council's shortcomings identified in the report. We accept the findings and its recommendations. We have already made changes in a number of the areas highlighted. ‘Independent reviews of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and the Public Law Outline process have already taken place and their recommendations have been implemented'. 'We are determined to keep improving, with the new senior leadership team overseeing the delivery of a comprehensive Improvement Plan for our Children and Learning service'. It is disappointing that once again due to failures in communications with multi agencies and following of processes, concerns were not followed up in this case which could have prevented Lucy’s death. It is clear the report has highlighted the need for change and it is hoped that this will be implemented not just in Southampton but further reaching to other local authorities and multi agency bodies to prevent this tragedy happening again. If you are concerned about the welfare of a minor there are a number of organisations you can talk to in addition to the police, social services and agencies that you may contact: Victim Support Line - Offering emotional and practical support for anyone who has been a victim of crime. Telephone: 0808 1689 111 NSPCC - 0808 800 5000 Child Line Respond - Support for people with learning disabilities and/or autism who have experienced trauma and abuse. Telephone: 0207 3830 700 /admin@respond.org.uk We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.
Over recent years we have seen the #metoo movement make waves in the media, triggering much discussion on the topic of sexual abuse and harassment. It is fair to say that, previously this behaviour would have gone undiscussed and sadly, largely ignored. Numerous household names have disclosed abuse in the film industry when the Harvey Weinstein cases became public following a 2017 publication. Models, actresses, personal assistances, the list goes on, all came forward disclosing abuse which spanned decades. Some of those who were brave enough to disclose information about their abuse can be found here. We saw the release of film “Bombshell” at the end of 2019 which told the true-life accounts of three women at Fox News who set out to expose CEO Roger Alies for sexual harassment. Once again this film raised awareness and kick started conversations regarding this inappropriate behaviour many have faced. The film “The Assistant” was also released in 2019 written by Kitty Green exploring sexual harassment faced by a female junior assistant. Of course, sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace is not limited to the film industry and affects both men and women. An American study found that 1 in every 4 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. A similar poll found 1 in 10 men experience sexual harassment. The study found a fourth of men are concerned of becoming falsely accused of sexual harassment. The study found the Top 5 Industries with Highest Sexual Harassment Incidents: 1. Business, Trade, Banking, and Finance 2. Sales and Marketing 3. Hospitality 4. Civil Service 5. Education, Lecturing, and Teaching A UK investigation called “Still just a bit of banter?” conducted by the workers’ union, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), in association with feminist activist Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism Project, found that 63% of young women between the ages of 18 and 24 had experienced sexual harassment compared to 52% of women of all ages.  There is not a strict definition of what constitutes sexual abuse or harassment in the workplace, it is based on how the victim feels about the behaviour. Harassment can include physical, verbal and nonverbal harassment. This can include for example; inappropriate jokes or comments, lewd emails, pornographic images or images of a sexual nature in the workplace. Sexual abuse may include comments about clothing or appearance, physical touching or staring at a person’s body. This in not an exhaustive list. The Equality Act 2010 explains that sexual harassment can often have the impact of affecting someone’s dignity, creating an intimidating, humiliating or hostile environment for them. Regarding liability for such behaviour, anyone who sexually harasses someone in the workplace is responsible for their own actions. However, in addition, employers can be responsible too under the term 'vicarious liability' and could be liable for civil claims for failings if they have failed to implement procedures and safeguarding. Employers must do everything they reasonably can to make sure their employees and workers are protected from sexual harassment. Employers must adopt a clear policy for sexual harassment which must also set out the steps to be taken if someone feels they are being harassed. Training should be implemented, and regular refreshers completed by employees to ensure everyone is acting appropriately in the workplace and employees are protected. In September 2020, Tory MP Charlie Elphicke was found guilty of three sex attacks after groping the breasts of two younger women and handed a two-year prison sentence. He had been Dover MP from 2010-2019. The former MP was also ordered to pay £35,000 in costs. This case is mentioned here to highlight that this individual was a trusted person with a successful career and was at one point a partner of a law firm. Such abuse takes place in Britain today, an abuser can take any shape and this should not prevent a victim coming forward. The Law Gazette reported how law firm Reed Smith has apologised for its handling of sexual harassment allegations against Elphicke, the former partner at the international firm. Reed Smith have confirmed they have opened a review last month into allegations made by a former colleague’s of Elphicke in 2005. The review came after the former staff member told the Guardian newspaper that she left Reed Smith’s London office because of Elphicke's behaviour. Safeline provides guidance and support if you have been affected by this article. It is important to highlight that anyone of any gender, in any role, and in any industry can be subject to sexual abuse and harassment. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. Please get in contact with Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.
Recently on our podcasts we discussed abuse in sport and more specifically in Wrestling. This week we turn to Ballet. Ballet students, as with many sports, start at a young age. Those focussing on such a career may attend specialist schools and spend hours alone with coaches forming strong bonds in the hope of progressing their career. We previously discussed the risks of coach - student relationships and the NSPCC campaign ‘Close the Loophole’ (#CloseTheLoophole) which aims to change the law regarding positions of trust to be extended to include any adult (in this scenario coaches) who holds a position of power over sixteen or seventeen year-olds. In the summer of 2020 a ballet school in Scotland became the centre of a probe into claims of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’ by staff member, Jonathan Barton, towards students. Victims stated how the teacher targeted the quiet vulnerable girls. One victim confirmed how Barton would message her, which slowly increased to asking her to attend his room at night. Barton and the student entered a sexual relationship when she was just sixteen. ITV News investigated and heard from more than sixty women alleging abuse going back as far as 2004 and as recently as 2018. This resulted in the resignation of Barton. Such reports again highlights safeguarding issues for children in the sports world and further areas where children spend significant time unsupervised with adults. These allegations in the Ballet world quickly follow the 2019 news headlines that former Royal Ballet star, Stephen Beagley, sexually abused girls he taught in private lessons. This resulted in him being jailed for ten years. Beagley was convicted of abusing three girls aged nine, ten and twelve during private ballet lessons between 1997 and 2010. He pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault, two charges of indecent assault and one of causing a child to engage in sexual activity. Beagley was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court. Beagley was a well known talented dancer and had held lead roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Cats and performed with Freddie Mercury. For many years Beagley was a guest teacher and the head of the adult ballet programme for the English National Ballet. He had taught around the world including Italy, America, Australia and Hong Kong. With such experience and skill he would have been held in high regard to his students and placed in a position of trust. As with many abusers, he would have used his position to manipulate his victims. A victim states "Beagley targeted the young girls he came into contact with and abused them while they were at their most vulnerable over many years." Again abuse in sport or these types of institutions require exposure and sufficient safeguarding measures to stop predators. At the time of writing, further media articles have disclosed abuse by coaches in cycling and tennis, once again highlighting the lack of safety in sporting industries. If you are in distress or need some support, the following charities can also help: Rape Crisis: services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999 Survivors UK: offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898 NSPCC: help@nspcc.org.uk. 0808 800 5000 Childline: 0800 1111 We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.  
In this week's episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, our Partner, Alan Collins, talks to Nicole, a sexual abuse survivor about her experience of going to court when her abuser was prosecuted. Nicole’s case is interesting not just because of her story and the experiences she shares with us, but for two particular reasons: There was a “Goodyear” hearing; and The judge made a Criminal Compensation Order What is a “Goodyear” hearing? This is the procedure by which a defendant can obtain an indication as to the sentence to be imposed upon a plea of guilty “and  is governed by the decision in R v Goodyear[2005] EWCA Crim 888). At the defendant’s request, the court can indicate the maximum sentence it would impose were the defendant to plead guilty at that stage of the proceedings. Proceedings should be held in open court. In Nicole’s case, the defendant’s lawyer asked the judge what would the sentence be? Having been advised a suspended prison sentence, the defendant pleaded guilty and was duly sentenced. In the podcast Nicole explains how she felt at the time, and offers her reflections. Criminal Compensation orders The criminal courts on sentencing offenders are required to consider making a compensation order which is defined in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (PCC(S)A 2000), to mean an order which requires the offender to pay compensation for any personal injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence. Unfortunately, many, if not most victims of sexual abuse are not awarded compensation. Nicole is something of a rarity because as she explains, she was awarded compensation. We have raised with both IICSA and the UK Parliament the fact that so few orders are made, when clearly in many cases they should be. The APPG Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse in its report said: “Survivors’ experiences of court and applying for compensation” wrote: The inquiry also heard how judges are not using their powers to issue Criminal Compensation Orders at the conclusion of a trial, with only 26 issued in 2017. Of those awarded, some were as low as £20 for the ‘rape of a male child under 13’. We will be asking Westminster to tell us what progress has been made to remedy this glaring defect in the justice system.
At the end of September, ITV broadcast drama ‘Honour’ based on the true story of the murder of a young woman Banaz Mahmod in Britain in January 2006. Banaz had left her arranged marriage and met a young Iranian man of her own choice. Banaz went to the police on 5 separate occasions disclosing rape by her husband and threats to her life by the local community after she left him. Banaz had herself predicted in December 2004 that her family were plotting to kill her when she had visited a police station. No further action was taken by the police at this time. In January 2006, three men (Banaz’s cousins) tortured, raped and then strangled to death then 20-year-old Banaz in the sitting room of her parents’ home in southwest London. Her body was later found discarded in a suitcase after her boyfriend alerted authorities she was missing. The disposal of her body arranged by her father and her uncle. Although shocking to hear that honour killings and honour abuse continues in Britain today, sadly this is not as a rare as we would believe. Hannana Siddiqui, of Southall Black Sisters, which works with victims of violence against women in south Asian and African communities, says: “Our helpline gets about 7,500 calls a year. That’s a mixture of domestic violence and honour-based violence. And this year, during lockdown, there was a huge increase in helpline calls. There’s also research that suggests 12 honour killings take place a year. But it’s hard to say the figures because it is a hidden crime.” The true figure could be much higher when considering that some killings may be commissioned or planned in the UK, but the act is committed abroad. Worldwide it is estimated that there are 5000 honour killings a year. Banaz’s case and those like it also lead to conflicting instincts as a desire to be anti-racist leads to fears of racially profiling and stereotyping Muslim men. Afzal faced this dilemma directly, having, in another part of his career as a crown prosecutor, overturned the original decision not to prosecute a group of largely Pakistani-heritage men who were grooming and sexually abusing young women in Rochdale. He said “The law has to operate without fear or favour across the board. When you have something which is not a new crime, but one being prosecuted for the first time, you can’t afford to think about which communities might be disproportionately implicated. Eighty-four per cent of sex offenders in this country are British white men. Are we saying all white men are like that? Of course not. You have to take the same attitude to forced marriage and honour-based violence in the south Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities.”  Honour based abuse is a broad umbrella term used to describe a combination of practices used principally to control and punish the behaviour of a member of a family or social group, in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs in the name of ‘honour’. Although predominantly associated with women and girls, male members of a family can also be victims of breaking the ‘honour code’, bringing disgrace to their family or social group. Perpetrators will feel that they need to restore their loss of face and standing within their community. There is no statutory definition of honour based abuse. However, the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) have provided guidance and a definition to Police Forces: ‘an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion or abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse), which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family and or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family and / or community’s code of behaviour’. In the UK honour-based abuse is a hidden crime with victims often unable or unwilling to come forward, crimes can be broad, ranging from threats and intimidation through to kidnap and murder. Honour abuse is often premeditated, a conspiracy with the shared belief that the victim must be killed or punished. They can involve various members of the family. In some cultures, ‘forced suicide’ is used as a substitute for a honour killing. When an honour crime has been committed, the community will often close ranks to protect the perpetrators. This may include, hiding those responsible, arranging for them to leave the UK, or providing false alibi’s. Triggers for honour based abuse can include rejecting a forced marriage, interfaith and inter-race relationships, renouncing a faith, loss of virginity, coming out as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), adultery, being to ‘westernised’ by inappropriate make-up or dress, kissing or being intimate in a public place etc. As was portrayed in the drama, there may be an element of ‘surveillance’ and control by the family or community members. In the case of adults this might present where the victim is routinely accompanied to and from a place of work. In children or young people, they may be driven to and from school, not able to walk or travel on public transport with friends, they might field a high number of phone calls from family members or their spouse. They may look uncomfortable taking the calls, quiet and withdrawn afterwards, a victim may be accompanied to the doctors by a family member or spouse, there may be noticeable levels of absenteeism, lateness at school, college or employment. Other indications of honour based abuse can be found here. Honour based abuse is also closely linked with forced marriage. The Marriage Act 1949 and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 govern the law on marriage in England and Wales. The minimum age at which a person can consent to marriage is 16. A person between the ages of 16 and 18 may not marry without parental consent (unless the young person is already a  widow/widower). A marriage will be void if either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise. Forced marriage became a criminal offence in the UK, in 2014.The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes it illegal for: a person to use violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter a marriage without their free and full consent. Coercion includes emotional force, physical force or the threat of physical force and financial pressure take a person overseas to force them to marry (whether the forced marriage takes place or not) practice any form of deception with the intention of causing another person to leave the UK for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage without their free and full consent marry a person who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not) breach a Forced Marriage Protection Order Lack of mental capacity – The Mental Capacity Act 2005 applies to all people aged 16 and over. In summary where a person lacks capacity to consent to marriage, that marriage must be viewed as a forced marriage whatever the reason for the marriage taking place. It prevents a parent form being able to give consent on behalf of a person who lack the capacity to give their own consent. In 2017 the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) together with the Walk Free Foundation produced the report ‘2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery’ which looked at the worldwide modern slavery problem. For the first time they included in their data, the figures relating to forced marriage. They estimated that in 2016 a staggering 15.4 million people were trapped within a forced marriage. Karma Nirvana is a UK charity that supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Founder and Director, Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, highlighted that victims of forced marriage needed to feel confident in coming forward.  You can find further information here https://karmanirvana.org.uk/ | 08005999247 | infor@karanirvana.org.uk Other Support Lines:          Southall Black Sisters: southallblacksisters.org.uk/ southallblacksisters.org.uk/campaigns/forced-marriage-campaign/  IKWRO: a website dedicated to safeguarding Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation, honour abuse and Domestic Abuse ikwro.org.uk AFRUCA: (Africans Unite Against Child Abuse) – A charity devoted to promoting the rights and welfare of African children. Tel: 020 7704 2261 | www.afruca.org True Honour: Supporting all victims of honour based violence forced marriage and female genital mutilation www.truehonour.org.uk | 07480621711 | contact@truehonour.org.uk The Halo Project Charity: support for victims of honour-based violence, forced marriages and female genital mutilation  01642 683045 or 08081 788 424 | https://www.haloproject.org.uk/ NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation helpline: 0800 028 3550 | www.nspcc.org.uk/inform/resourcesforprofessionals/minorityethnic/female-genital-mutilation_wda96841.html We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.
Sammy Woodhouse has campaigned tirelessly over the years for awareness following her brave disclosure of the abuse she suffered as a teenager. The bestselling author of ‘Just a Child’ contacted The Times newspaper in 2013 and handed over evidence that proved she was abused and failed by authorities. Her story was published and this triggered the Alexis Jay report, which exposed 1,400 children being abused and failed in Rotherham. A police investigation, Operation Clover & Operation Stovewood was also launched into all non-recent child abuse cases in South Yorkshire, becoming the biggest investigation in the UK. The investigations which followed exposed Rotherham grooming gangs who committed serious child sexual exploitation crimes over an extensive period which spanned from approximately 1987 until 2003. In February 2016, Sammy’s abuser Arshid Hussain was found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in prison alongside 5 others, for a total of 102 years. There were four trials in total under Operation Clover & Thunder, 21 survivors, 20 criminals and a total sentencing of 290 years 6 months. When Sammy was 15, the police raided the property of now-convicted serial rapist Hussain. Sammy was half-naked and hiding under his bed. Hussain was not detained, but Sammy was arrested and charged. Sammy had been coerced into committing assault and possessing an offensive weapon, by the notorious gang leader. Just like Sammy and others like her, those convictions are still required to be disclosed to any prospective employer. For anyone in this position it means, that to explain such convictions and criminal records they will need to disclose their abuse. The aim of implementing Sammy’s Law would be to ensure children are not charged for committing crimes whilst being groomed or coerced. Further, the Government must consider putting something in place for children that have already gained a criminal record due to being abused, as this is preventing them from moving forward. John Boutcher, the Former Police Chief Constable supported Sammy’s campaign to stop victims of abuse being criminalised. He said “It cannot be right that victims are fearful of coming forward to the police or other organisations because to do so they are potentially placing themselves in jeopardy of prosecution. We must provide reassurances to those victims that are placed into a world of crime by their torturers and provide victims with an exit from their abuse. This pathway out of abuse should avoid victims being criminalised where they support a prosecution against their abusers, by so doing it is far more likely that we will put their tormentors where they belong, behind bars. Abusers will deliberately manipulate their victims into crime so that they can then further control them through both a fear of the criminal justice system as well as the more traditional methods of violence and intimidation to subdue resistance to their will". MP Louise Haige also supports the implementation of Sammy’s Law. She said Judges in the High Court have already ruled that forcing victims of CSE to disclose past convictions linked to CSE is unjust. They argued that, any link between the past offending and the assessment of present risk in a particular employment, is either non-existent or at best extremely tenuous. I’m calling on the Government to bring forward what is known as Sammy’s law, which would give CSE victims the right to have their criminal records automatically reviewed, and crimes associated with their grooming removed. At present, anyone has the right to apply to the chief constable of their force area to have their records reviewed, but it is little known. Sammy and victims like her, have been repeatedly failed by the state. They were failed by our legal system, by the police, by the Crown Prosecution Service, by local authorities and by Government at every level. The Government must now ensure that the state no longer fails CSE survivors. Sammy’s law would help to achieve that. You can find out more about the campaign Sammy’s Law here. The website also provides guidance for any parent who has concerns their child may be being groomed. If you are concerned about abuse you may be suffering or wish to discuss this and are under 18 your can contact Childline on 0800 1111. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.
Over the years, again and again allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse have surfaced from individuals who have spent time in institutional care. This can include many forms of institution including but not restricted to; schools, care homes, hospitals, religious organisations and detention centres. In 2017, an investigation was commenced into the allegations of beatings, mistreatment and sexual abuse, including rape suffered at the Hill End Hospital Adolescent Unit in St Albans between 1969 and 1995 by former staff members. Over 100 victims provided evidence to the investigation and over 70 members of staff were investigated. Hill End was supposed to treat teenagers with psychiatric illnesses but became known as a “dumping ground” for children for whom the NHS and local authorities had run out of other ideas for. Survivors told how they were sexually abused and filmed during strip searches, while children were also beaten. Survivors accounts disclosed being kept in police type cells and sedated for days at a time without reason or justification. As well as the sedation and physical abuse that accompanied it, survivors have reported being raped and sexually abused by hospital staff while being sedated or during strip searches under the pretence of checking for items they could harm themselves with. Survivors said that few children had been diagnosed with mental health issues, and cast doubt on the effectiveness of treatment. Survivors found medication did not appear on any records given to their GPs and the hospital’s own documents were destroyed in an arson attack at an undisclosed off-site facility. In November 2020 following a three year investigation known as Operation Meadow, Hertfordshire Constabulary confirmed there was “insufficient evidence to support any arrest or prosecution”. Hertfordshire Constabulary said its investigation established that sedation at Hill End “did not meet the standards of the day and medical records show that in some cases children were given adult doses and were repeatedly sedated”. A statement added: “As well as the use of sedation, officers have also investigated allegations of sexual assault at Hill End. These have all been fully investigated; however, again there is insufficient evidence to support any arrest or prosecution”. The report can be found here. One survivor accused police of failing to follow up a report he attempted to make 12 years ago. Survivors have vowed however to continue their fight for justice and proceed with civil claims which have a lower burden of proof than a criminal trial. The ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is continuing to take evidence on “the extent to which institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse” in councils, the police, armed forces, schools, hospitals, children’s homes, charities, religious groups and other public services. The Truth Project offers victims and survivors of child sexual abuse the chance to share their experiences and be heard with respect. You can find information about this here. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.
This summer the BBC released the drama ‘I May Destroy You’ exploring sexual assault and consent issues. It plays out issues rarely discussed in mainstream media. Early into the drama, the main character, Arabella is drugged and sexually assaulted. The series follows her journey of flashbacks, piecing together her memories of what has happened to her. The series also focuses on her coping mechanisms and shows her struggle to accept she was a victim. Throughout the drama stereotypical comments are used such as “you should watch your drink, you wouldn’t be raped”. It is both frustrating and upsetting for victims, but the drama shows the impact this thoughtless comment has on the character and hopefully will raise awareness that a victim is not to blame. However, as a warning for any future watchers of the drama, it may be triggering for anyone who has suffered similar incidents. Further into the series, a male character has consensual protected sex with a man after meeting on Grindr, a dating app. He is then raped by the same person without a condom when he tries to leave. The scenes highlights the particular risk that dating apps pose. The character reports the crime to the police but sadly he is not taken seriously, he is questioned how someone can be raped if they have consented previously to the same sexual act. It is estimated that 70,000 men are raped every year in the UK so these scenes help to raise awareness of the risks to both men and women. The series also raises awareness of Stealthing, the term that describes when a man deliberately removes a condom during sex despite agreeing to wear one without consent of the other party. A study published by Alexandra Brodsky at the Yale School of Law brought Stealthing into the press in 2017 The series watches Arabella consent to sexual intercourse with a condom but this is removed without her knowledge during the act. She is then told by the partner “I thought you knew, I thought you would feel it” which is deemed typical gaslighting behaviour in such situation. Arabella struggles with feelings of confusion and violation after she discovers this has happened. It is only further on into the series she finds out this is a popular occurrence and invalidates the consent for the sexual act she gave. Websites have been set up to advise men on how to remove a condom without knowledge or consent, almost like a challenge. Not only is there the concern of consent but also sexual transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancies. Victims' charities say stealthing must be treated as rape and that it's a hugely under-reported problem. Law Under Scottish Law there is no specific reference to “stealthing” or condom removal as a criminal offence, but it is legally recognised as a serious sexual offence in England and Wales under the term “conditional consent”. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA 2003) outlines the sexual offences which are illegal under the laws of England and Wales. These include: rape (s 1); assault by penetration (s 2); sexual assault (s 3); causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent (s 4). Section 74 defines consent as 'if he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice'. This is two staged: capacity to make a choice about whether or not to take part in the sexual activity at the time in question. whether he or she was in a position to make that choice freely, and was not constrained in any way. Section 74 and conditional consent has been considered by the High Court and the Court of Appeal in a series of cases where ostensible consent in relation to sexual offences was considered not to be true consent, either because a condition upon which consent was given was not complied with or because of a material deception (other than one which falls within section 76 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 [SOA]). In Julian Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority [2011] EWHC 2849 (Admin), an extradition case, the President of the Queens Bench Division considered the situation in which Mr Assange knew that AA would only consent to sexual intercourse if he used a condom. Rejecting the view that the conclusive presumption in section 76 of the SOA would apply in these circumstances the President concluded that the "issue of materiality ...can be determined under section 74 rather than section 76". On the specific facts the President said: "It would plainly be open to a jury to hold that if AA had made clear that she would only consent to sexual intercourse if Mr Assange used a condom, then there would be no consent if, without her consent, he did not use a condom, or removed or tore the condom ..... His conduct in having sexual intercourse without a condom in circumstances where she had made clear she would only have sexual intercourse if he used a condom would therefore amount to an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003...." Currently, when someone consents to have intercourse with a condom and the condom is removed without their permission this consent disappears. A report by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) published in December 2018, found that 40 per cent of people incorrectly believe that removing a condom without a partner’s consent is never or not usually sexual assault. https://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/ Katie Russell, spokesperson for Rape Crisis, explains: “You may consent to sex with a condom but not without one. You have provided your consent on a condition, and if someone breaks that condition they are breaking the law.” https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/what-is-stealthing There have been few cases that have dealt with the issue of stealthing to date. Of those reported, in 2017 a man was charged in Switzerland with rape which was a landmark case. A policeman was subsequently found guilty of sexual assault in Germany for the same crime.  In 2019, a man from Bournemouth was sentenced to 12 years in prison after raping a women in a hotel room when he chose to remove the condom being used during sex. The female, a sex worker, had provided conditions of intercourse to where a condom which were agreed beforehand and advertised on her website. Support for anyone who thinks they may have been affected by anything in this blog can be found here https://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/news/i-may-destroy-you.   We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com.
Zara McDermott star of Love Island and Made in Chelsea has recently confirmed that she is working closely with Refuge Charity  to raise awareness of the Naked Threat Campaign which is calling for the Government to make threatening to share intimate images a crime. https://www.refuge.org.uk/refuge-launches-the-naked-threat-campaign/ Zara herself experienced image based abuse during her time filming Love Island when intimate images of her were shared online without her permission. She has since used her social media platform to disclose the devastating impact this act of revenge porn had on her and to voice the need for change. Zara will also feature in an upcoming BBC documentary to discuss her experience of revenge porn. The Naked Threat Campaign is backed by the Victims Commissioner and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner to urge the Government to use the Domestic Abuse Bill to make a simple legal change that would make a huge difference to the everyday lives. With ever changing technology, images can be uploaded and shared within seconds. Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp are most popular in such quests with the ability to share images with millions of users in seconds. Disturbingly, these images are sometimes sent to the victim’s children, parents or employer and frequently also posted on pornographic sites which are then difficult to remove. We have seen many instances over the years in the media where celebrities’ phones have been hacked and storylines of such revenge porn have played out in British soap Coronation Street, dramas and films. At this time, only the physical sharing of such images or films without consent in order to cause distress is a crime.  This is described as “the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress”.  The offence covers images or videos showing people engaged in sexual activity which would not usually be done in public or with their genitals, buttocks or breasts exposed or covered only with underwear.  It is an offence to share the material as well as posting it online.  In England and Wales, the maximum punishment is two years in prison, but in Scotland, it is five years     The Naked Threat Campaign seeks to change the law so that threatening to share intimate images is made a crime by extending Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 to criminalise threats to share sexual images or films in England and Wales without consent with the intent to cause distress. The hope is by explicitly outlawing threats to share sexual images or films, this  will send the clear message to the abusers. A survey commissioned by Refuge found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced threats to share intimate images or videos, this is equivalent to 4.4 million. Those impacted by threats to share images, include controlling partners and ex-partners, leaving some victims afraid to leave abusive relationships. 72% of women who have received threats to share were threatened by a current or ex-partner and 83% of women who experienced the threat from a current or former partner also experienced other forms of abuse. This confirms Refuge’s assertion that threatening to share intimate images must be treated as a domestic abuse issue.  Threats to share intimate images are most prevalent amongst young people (aged 18-34), with 1 in 7 young women experiencing such threats. Such threats have significant impact on mental health and social wellbeing and will act as a way of control. Of those impacted, 1 in 7 confirmed they felt risk of physical abuse and 1 in 10 felt suicidal.https://www.refuge.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/The-Naked-Threat-Report.pdf If you would like further information you can go to: Refuge: https://www.refuge.org.uk/ Helpline 0808 2000 247 Victim Support: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/cyber-crime/image-based-sexual-abuse http://www.revengepornhelpline.org.uk/0845 6000 459 We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com
This week the popular BBC soap opera EastEnders will tackle male sexual abuse, a storyline expected to play out over the coming weeks. Actor Danny Dyer's character Mick discovers a new character is his biological daughter, Frankie Lewis. Viewers of the soap will establish the girl's mother was once Mick’s care worker during his time in social care and secondly, Mick would have only been 12 years old at the time of sexual intercourse with his carer. The storyline will focus on Mick’s realisation he was abused as a child despite having tried to avoid these emotions for many years. The storyline is set to explore Mick’s ongoing struggles with disclosure and feelings of abandonment. The long-term effects that will play out on screen for the character will be panic attacks, emotional difficulties, and mental health decline. EastEnders have worked very closely with Survivors UK and NSPCC in the hope that the storyline will challenge the perceptions and stigma experienced by male survivors of sexual abuse. It is hoped the storyline will encourage people to come forward in similar positions to seek the help they may require. Alex Feis-Bryce, CEO of Survivors UK, commented: “Research suggests that it takes male survivors an average of 26 years to speak out and seek support and the impact of sexual violence can be devastating. The following organisations are available to contact for support: Rape Crisis: services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999 Survivors UK: offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898 NSPCC: help@nspcc.org.uk. 0808 800 5000 Childline:  0800 1111 We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at  Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com
In recent years the popularity of UK Wresting has soared. With shows every weekend around the country drawing in big crowds of both young and old, the activity which is a mixture of both acting and sport is now highly popular in the UK just as it is in America and Japan. NXT UK is a professional wrestling television programme produced by WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) arguably the biggest entertainment giants for wrestling.  The show airs in the United Kingdom on BT Sport, Channel 5 and Paramount Network making overnight successes of some of the show’s stars. Films like Fighting With My Family based on the true-life success story of Saraya-Jade Bevis (Paige) who was signed to WWE and was the youngest ever Diva Champion at the age of 21 have been hugely successful. In recent months, however, wrestling has repeatedly hit the headlines for the wrong reasons; abuse by leading wrestlers and secondly safeguarding issues. Wrestlers, promoters, and other people in the industry were accused of sexual misconduct, with people using the hashtag #SpeakingOut as they shared their stories on social media. A wave of suspensions and sackings followed in the UK and the US, including big names from WWE. BBC journalist Jonathan Savage reported that West Yorkshire Police were "carrying out initial enquiries" into allegations of a number of cases of abuse reported by female wrestlers. Following this, many big names in the wrestling world from different organisations such as WWE and Elite Wrestling, both victims and the accused have been disclosed in recent publications Kelly Klein a professional female American wrestler wrote on Twitter: “I was raped by a now well-known wrestler when I was 18. I didn’t feel like I had support or sufficient proof. I believed my career would be over before it started." Impact Wrestling released Joey Ryan, Dave Crist and Michael Elgin following multiple sexual misconduct allegations shared on social media.  WWE recently released Former British champion Gentleman Jack Gallagher over allegations of menacing advances at a New Years Eve party in 2014. The former cruiserweight wrote, "In 2014, at a New Year's Eve party, I met a young woman and my behaviour towards her was inappropriate. As this party was nearly six years ago and I had drunk quite a large amount of alcohol that night, unfortunately, I do not recollect what happened. I wish to make it clear that drinking is not an excuse for my behaviour that night. I want to express my deepest regrets, and I am genuinely sorry for the upset that I have caused." He continued. "This isolated incident is not reflective of my behaviour and attitude towards women. As a man, I know I can do better, and with the support of my wife, I have taken the time over the last few months to understand what I can do. But this is not about me, but about the women that come forward as part of the #SpeakingOut movement. I will continue to support women and this movement to the best of my ability."  WWE released a statement on the allegations against the performers in the wrestling company. It said: "Individuals are responsible for their own personal actions. WWE has zero-tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Upon arrest for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately suspended. Upon conviction for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately terminated."  UK wrestling star Matt Riddle is alleged to have abused Candy Cartwright, also a wrestler, in 2018, who claimed on Twitter that Riddle forced her to give him oral sex after choking her. Another UK wrestling star Jordan Devlin (WWE NXT UK Superstar) has also been named after allegations were made by Hannah Francesca.  Francesca posted a series of tweets in which she alleged she was physically abused by someone in the industry and when she went to the promotion, she was told “One of my boys wouldn’t do that.” She included photos of her bruised body. WWE executives are reportedly getting together to discuss the influx of abuse allegations levied against NXT UK talent. Tom Colohue reports that WWE officials have called an emergency meeting to discuss the allegations against stars from the brand who have been accused of sexual, physical or mental/verbal abuse: https://411mania.com/wrestling/sexual-misconduct-allegations-el-ligero-mikey-whiplash-uk-wrestlers/ Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones raised the Speaking Out movement in Parliament during a debate on misogyny in sport and stated "The disturbing reality and lived experience for many female wrestlers is, more often than not, entrenched in misogyny," she said. "I have heard horrific tales from female wrestlers who were faced with threats of rape or sexual assault, all in the name of 'friendly banter', "I have also heard from women as young as 13 or 14 who, at the start of their careers, were the targets of vile behaviours that saw male wrestlers competing to be the one to take their virginity." Davies-Jones said the #SpeakingOut movement had left the wrestling industry "tainted with its harrowing stories of emotional and sexual abuse" and questioned what was being done when there was "no governing body to hold to account" and "Who should these young women turn to?" the MP asked, telling BBC Sport: "Wrestling has fallen through the gaps because it's not necessarily a sport." In September 2020 it was announced a group of cross-party MPs will launch the first ever inquiry into British Professional wrestling to consider how best to promote, support and improve the wrestling industry in Britain. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wrestling, co-chaired by Davies-Jones and Mark Fletcher MP will start taking evidence, written and oral, to inform a report due to be released in early 2021. Other MPs involved in the inquiry include Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Paul Bristow MP, Ruth Jones MP and Connor McGinn. Guidance on how to provide evidence to the inquiry can be found here. NXT UK’s Pete Dunne has posted about the situation, noting that he is “disgusted by what I’m reading. Well done to those speaking out. I really hope we can make British wrestling a better place and keep everyone safe. This is a huge eye opener and let’s hope it will force a big change.” Coach Relationships And Minors Another reg flag that came from the exposure in wrestling was relationships formed with younger athletes. As with recent exposures in the sport industry, with regard to British Gymnastics, Ballet and Swimming, coaching falls within a problematic loophole. It is illegal for teachers, care workers, doctors and youth justice workers to have sexual intercourse with 16 or 17-year-olds in their care. However due to a loophole, adults who hold a position of power over a young person such as coaches can legally have sex with someone of the age of 16 even in a position of trust such as this. Such position of trust formed with a coach prevents many young people speaking out for fear this will not only damage their career but that they may not be believed. It provides a dangerous shift in the balance of power. Coaches may have worked with individuals for years having formed close bonds not only with the trainee themselves but also family and friends of the individual. The NSPCC have been campaigning to change the law to be extended to include any adult who holds a position of power over 16 or 17-year-olds for many years. https://www.nspcc.org.uk/support-us/campaigns/close-the-loophole/ #CloseTheLoophole Wrestler Banks, whose real name is Travis Bligh, has been accused of emotional and psychological abuse during a relationship with a 17-year-old trainee, Millie McKenzie. Millie accused the then 30 year old coach Banks of being emotionally manipulative of her during a “secret one year relationship” when she was training under him. Banks, who was also released by the WWE's NXT UK promotion, gave BBC Sport a statement in response, saying: "I apologise again for the pain that was caused. This was an entirely consensual relationship but I recognise that what happened should not have happened. "I support the efforts being made by the Speaking Out movement to enable everyone in wrestling, and other sports also, to feel safe and never have to face a similar situation." Lucia Lee, 18, was another wrestler who came forward. In June 2020 she claimed young women were "slut shamed" and referred to as "ring rats", accused by male colleagues of having "slept their way on to shows". Speaking to BBC Sport, Lee said: "After my first match - I was 16 - there was a 30-something-year-old man backstage. Everyone congratulated me and he just sort of gave me a massive hug and whispered into my ear, 'your arse looked amazing during that match'. "If you speak up against someone that's on big shows, they can start going around to each individual promotion and saying 'don't book her, she's a troublemaker; don't book her she's a ring rat'." Many of the alleged victims blamed a 'locker room' culture in wrestling that allowed misconduct to happen with a lack of rules no one to check on you. Again due to the loophole, this will be another sport/activity which will allow young people to remain vulnerable. What happens next? It will be of interest to see in the coming months, what safeguarding measures are proposed to protect individuals going forward. In addition to the Biritsh Inqury, Equity, a trade union for entertainers, has suggested five pledges to regulate British wrestling, including safeguarding and 'dignity at work' policies, separate dressing rooms at shows and agreed transport and accommodation arrangements. Progress Wrestling told BBC Sport: "We've all got to be great for this industry to work and to prevent another Speaking Out movement happening. Because if we're on the same level, we're on the same page, it's going to be safer for everyone." Revolution Pro Wrestling CEO Andy Quildan said it wants "an independent body and we want to be held accountable". British Wrestling have confirmed they are working closely with the NSPCC. The link to this is here. We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact us by emailing aboutabuse@hjtalks.co.uk. 
In this episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Danielle Vincent explore the Church of England’s proposed compensation scheme for victims of abuse. An interim pilot scheme has been drawn up to initially compensate 10 survivors. A statement read ‘The pilot scheme is designed to enable the Church to respond in particular to those survivors’ cases which are already known to the Church, where the survivor is known to be in seriously distressed circumstances, and the Church has a heightened responsibility because of the way the survivor was responded to following disclosure”. Compensation funds have now been approved by the Church’s Cabinet, the Archbishops Council.  Initial estimates suggest compensation will amount to potentially £200 million. The scheme will look to compensate these 10 individuals as a ‘pilot’ before finalising the full Redress Scheme which will then be opened up to the masses. At this time, it is unclear what the time scale will be for this. The Church of England compensation scheme follows the ongoing investigation and criticism by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The IICSA has held several hearings into abuse in the Church of England and the Catholic Church The finalised report is still awaited, such hearing being delayed by the current covid pandemic. The inquiry’s report is expected to heavily criticise the Church of England for its failure to act on disclosures of abuse and to treat survivors with compassion by protecting clergy at the expense of children and vulnerable adults The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, and Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and most senior Catholic cleric in England and Wales, have previously both given evidence in person to the IISCA, apologising for abuse and its cover-up. The Archbishop of Canterbury told it that he was ashamed of the church and abusers should go to prison. ‘These decisions feel like a turning point. We continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed.  A separate 2017 investigation by the IICSA into abuse by former bishop Peter Ball found the church failed to protect boys and then concealed evidence of Ball’s crime and prioritised its own reputation above the needs of victims. Ball was jailed for 32 months in 2015 for sexual abuse against boys carried out over three decades.  Ball was allowed to remain in the Church after accepting a reprimand for his behaviour in 1993. The redress scheme has been publicised as the turning point in the Church’s treatment of survivors abused by bishops, clergy, churchwardens, employees, volunteers, congregation members and people with church connections. The Archbishops’ Council also committed the Church of England to greater independence and transparency in the way it deals with abuse. The scheme has been a long time coming for many victims whose complaints were never investigated or dismissed. Reporting of both current and historical abuse in the dioceses have risen experientially based on the initial data disclosed in the last few years. In 2017 there were 3,287 complaints, compared with 2,195 in 2015. It is understood the increase is from vulnerable category victims. It is predicted thousands of individuals will come forward to apply to the scheme who may not have already disclosed their experiences The criteria an applicant will be required to meet to be eligible to apply to the scheme and the finer details of the compensation awards tariff available has yet to be disclosed at this time. It is thought the scheme with cover sexual abuse, physical and psychological abuse. The history behind the scheme is outlined by the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, the Rt. Rev’d Jonathan Gibbs in a BBC interview on 4th October 2o20: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000n4vy The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) runs The Truth Project offering victims and survivors of child sexual abuse the chance to share their experiences and be heard with respect. 5000 people have spoken out. The link to this is here  https://www.truthproject.org.uk/help-and-support#233150507 We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at  Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com
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Podcast Details

Created by
The Hugh James Abuse Team
Podcast Status
Feb 26th, 2019
Latest Episode
Apr 16th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
14 minutes

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