Paedophiles who download or share child abuse images should receive the same punishment as those who abuse children themselves, according to the solicitor general.
Robert Buckland QC said downloading and sharing such images was just as “insidious” as direct sexual abuse, as he announced plans to extend the unduly lenient sentencing scheme to indecent images offences. Under the scheme, victims and members of the public can challenge tariffs handed down to offenders.
“We have got to make sure that it’s fully understood that use of the internet to download and share images of child abuse is as insidious a crime as direct sexual assault,” Buckland, the MP for South Swindon, told the Daily Telegraph.
“I do hear that the weight of cases is a challenge but that shouldn’t detract from the seriousness of this type of offending and the fact that too many children and young people are being exploited, in many cases for the gratification of people living hundreds of miles away.”
One in four convictions for child abuse images result in custodial sentences, with the rest given community sentences, fines or suspended sentences, according to official figures.
A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said: “As set out in the manifesto commitment, we are working with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to look at extending the scheme further. No decisions on future extensions have been made.”
In response to Buckland’s remarks, an MoJ spokesperson said: “Online child sexual exploitation is sickening, and offenders who take or distribute indecent images already face 10 years in prison – with record numbers given custodial sentences in 2017.
“Last year, we also made it illegal to communicate sexually with a child, and we will shortly set out further measures to protect child victims in our victim’s strategy. However, sentencing is a matter for independent judges who make decisions based on the full facts of each case.”
The government has introduced various pieces of legislation relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation during its time in office. A new offence of revenge pornography has been created, it is now an offence to possess a “paedophile manual”, and a specific offence of communicating sexually with a child has also been introduced.
Three members of a Rochdale grooming gang face possible deportation to Pakistan after court of appeal judges upheld a decision to strip them of their British citizenship.
Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men jailed in May 2012 for their part in a grooming ring which plied vulnerable girls with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” for sex.
The court heard that some of the victims, who were aged in their early teens, were raped and physically assaulted and some were forced to have sex with “several men in a day, several times a week”.
Following their conviction, Aziz, Khan and Rauf were informed by the Home Office in 2015 that they would be stripped of their British citizenship, after which the home secretary would consider deporting them to Pakistan.
They were told: “British citizenship is a privilege that confers particular entitlements and benefits, including the right to a British passport and the right to vote in general elections.
“It is not in the public interest that individuals who engage in serious and/or organised crime, which constitutes a flagrant abuse of British values, enjoy those entitlements and benefits.”
The men challenged the decision at the first tier tribunal (FTT), arguing that removing their citizenship would breach their right to a family life under the European convention on human rights, as they have children living in the UK.
The FTT ruled against the men, concluding that “depriving the appellant of his British citizenship would not in itself prevent him continuing his relationship with his family”.
The upper tribunal also rejected the men’s appeal, arguing that the serious nature of their crimes meant it was reasonable for the home secretary to view the removal of their citizenship as “conducive to the public good”.
The men then took their case to the court of appeal and represented themselves before three senior judges at a hearing in July. Adil Khan argued that he was innocent of any crime, something the judges dismissed.
In a ruling on Wednesday, Lord Justice Sales said: “Given the extremely serious nature of the offending by each appellant, there is no good ground for calling that conclusion into question. There was no error of law by the FTT.”
All three men, from Rochdale, were found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16 and trafficking for sexual exploitation following a trial at Liverpool crown court.
Aziz, who was one of the ringleaders of the grooming gang and referred to by some of the others as The Master, was jailed for nine years.
Married father of five Rauf was jailed for six years and Khan for eight years.
Outlining their offending, Sales said: “The sentencing judge described how in some cases the girls were raped callously, viciously and violently; and in some cases they were driven round Rochdale and Oldham to be made to have sex with paying customers.
“All the men treated the girls as though they were worthless and beyond all respect. They were motivated by lust and greed.”
Under the British Nationality Act 1981, the home secretary has the power to strip an individual of their British citizenship – as long as it would not leave them stateless – if it is seen as “conducive to the public good” or they obtained their British citizenship fraudulently.
Depriving a person of citizenship for the public good can be done on the grounds of “involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organised crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviours”.
Another day, another shocking headline about rape in India, from the 30 girls in a Bihar shelter who were allegedly sexually abused over many years to the 10-year-old child who escaped from another “shelter” in Uttar Pradesh and ran to a police station asking for help.
Rapes have become the new normal in my country. So much so that India’s supreme court made headlines itself on Monday, asking: “What is to be done? Girls and women are getting raped left, right and centre.” This is unusual practice for a supreme court anywhere, and underlines the gravity of the situation. Justice Madan Lokur of the supreme court pointed out: “The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data observes that a woman is raped every six hours in India.”
Even the highly regarded Tata Institute of Social Sciences, in Mumbai, has reported the abuse of minors and women. It uncovered evidence while conducting a social audit of government shelters earlier this year. A medical report confirmed 34 girls had been sexually abused.
The 10-year-old in Uttar Pradesh begged the police to save her and her friends. Every evening, she said, red, black, grey cars came and took her friends away. They brought them back in the morning and the girls cried all day. Please help them, she pleaded. Predictably, she captured hearts and headlines. So it became national news.
Likewise, the alleged gang rape of a 13-year-old tribal girl, by seven tribal men, five of whom were juveniles. This was in Jharkhand state, adjoining Bihar. The child was grazing cattle outside her village when seven men were said to have pounced on her. One veteran social activist explained to me some decades ago: “Sex before marriage was accepted by tribal communities, so where was the need for rape?”
The same person sadly reported that rape is now rampant in tribal Jharkhand. Boys as young as 10 download pornography from mobile phone shops for as little as 10 rupees (12p). The combination of endless, violent porn videos and alcohol appears to be a lethal trigger for many rapes in India – a country where traditional Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh society strictly forbids not just sex outside marriage but any mixing of the sexes in towns and villages. Arranged marriages are still the norm across all religions. For repressed men to be fed a constant diet of porn on their phones is a recipe for disaster.
The infamous gang rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in 2012 that led the city to be called the “rape capital of the world” was carried out by six men who had just been watching violent porn while drinking alcohol, another taboo in orthodox Indian families.
Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, a child rights activist for nearly 30 years, told me: “Society is being sexualised, there is sexual content everywhere, in films and music. Rampant, vicious porn is easily available to children. Middle-class families may monitor what their kids watch, but uneducated and illiterate people haven’t a clue about what their kids see on their phones. The vegetable vendor near my house sits glued to his mobile all day. Two young boys with one wire plugged into an ear each, sharing a video. I can assure you they are not watching the news.”
Thukral, like me, is depressed. “Why should the supreme court publicly lament the situation?” she said. “We look to the supreme court for solutions, not laments. It needs to see that implementation of laws regarding women’s safety is stringently carried out.”
For decades, women’s groups have fought long and hard to put safety measures in place through special laws. But where is the proper governance and monitoring of juvenile homes and women’s shelters? We have special police now, to check on internet crime, harassment and abuse. How do we protect children and women from predators and harmful porn?
My liberal friends have fought for civil liberties and freedom of expression over the years. As a journalist I support that. But grassroots activists like me are increasingly sick of liberals fighting for freedom to watch violent, sadistic porn. One tired human rights defender said: “It’s hard to stomach glib sermons on the right to freedom to use a potential ‘driver of rape’ [porn] when faced with a wounded, bleeding raped woman or child.”
I have to say I agree with her. It’s time for the courts and the government to look seriously at how we can clamp down on porn in India. As we approach India’s 71st Independence Day anniversary, on 15 August, perhaps we can focus on freedom from fear for our women and children.
Jayne Ozanne is right that conversion therapy is almost exclusively carried out by faith groups (‘It takes a lifetime to recover’, G2, 8 August). However, psychotherapists and counsellors should not be complacent. There are things we need to own and attend to.
First, there is a history of homophobic non-acceptance of same-sex love on the part, in particular, of psychoanalysis. Much has been done within that modality to make necessary revisions to theory and practice.
Second, the psychotherapy professional groups need to make it crystal clear that the answer to this problem of continuing – but non-professional – conversion therapy is not to take the entire profession under some kind of statutory regulation. The drawbacks of that are well-established by now. The Professional Standards Authority’s scheme of accredited voluntary registers is working.
Finally, we need to make it absolutely clear that if you come to psychotherapy wishing to explore issues of sex and sexuality, you will still be able to do so. There is no way in which the condemnation of conversion therapy should impose a cordon sanitaire on one of the main reasons people come to psychotherapists.
When I was chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy in 2009-12, at the time when the memorandum of understanding banning conversion therapy was conceived, we wanted to reassure potential patients that sexuality was still something we expected our clients and patients to engage with. However, this reassurance slipped off the agenda because it was – wrongly – deemed too complex a matter.
Clarity on this issue is really important, because ‘conversion therapy’, the attempt to alter a person’s sexuality, is being conflated with any approach to gender dysphoria or gender identity confusion that isn’t ‘affirmative’, that is, agreeing that the person is in the ‘wrong body’.
There is an example of this in the Guardian very recently, the examples in the article and the films described are all gay conversion, but the journalist describes ‘conversion therapy’ as “any treatment aiming to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress their gender identity”.
This matters, because, as Jesse Singal reports: “All else being equal, this research suggests that the most likely outcome for a child with gender dysphoria is that they will grow up to be cisgender and gay or bisexual. Researchers don’t know why that is, but it appears that in some kids, nascent homo- or bisexuality manifests itself as gender dysphoria. In others, gender dysphoria can arise as a result of some sort of trauma or other unresolved psychological issue, and goes away either with time or counselling. And in still others, of course, it is a sign that the child will identify as transgender for their whole adult life. While the actual percentages vary from study to study, overall, it appears that about 80 percent of kids with gender dysphoria end up feeling okay, in the long run, with the bodies they were born into.”
There has been no systematic research into the ‘gender affirmative’ approach; but claims of 100% ‘success’ rates from ‘gender affirming’ doctors (ie, of all the children treated with ‘gender affirmation’, none of them desisted).
The UK Council for Psychotherapy has launched a new Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy to include ‘gender identity,’ leaving therapists, counsellors, GPs and clinical professionals in a position where they may be afraid to do anything but agree with a patient’s self-diagnosis as ‘transgender.’ Anything other than ‘affirmation’ could lay a professional open to the charge of conversion or reparative therapy.
‘Affirmation’ is an untested approach to children with gender dysphoria, a result of demands by political activists rather than an approach developed on the basis of research and evidence.
Of course, we support the original Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy which outlaws attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation. But ‘gender identity’ should not be conflated with sexual orientation as if the two things are essentially the same issue. For gender dysphoria, the choice of approach is between ‘affirmation’ and ‘watchful waiting’ but its inclusion in the Memorandum suggests that the watchful waiting approach could be considered to be conversion therapy if a child subsequently desists.
What it means is that for a health practitioner to offer any therapeutic support or exploration of underlying factors, motives or reasons for a cross-sex identity in childhood they are now taking a professional risk. Instead, a practitioner must confirm and therefore reinforce a child’s belief that they really are the opposite sex. If a boy thinks he’s a girl, he’s a girl. If a girl believes herself to be a boy, she’s a boy, no questions allowed.
No concession is given to children and young people whose identities are in development and highly susceptible to influence from parents, peers and professionals as well as an increasingly powerful transgender lobby. ‘Affirmation’ is not a neutral approach, it is a strong statement of belief that a girl can be born in a boy’s body and vice versa. No practitioner should be imposing false and non-scientific beliefs on a child or young person or knowingly mislead them about reality.
Ironically, the new MOU asserts that practitioners should be “free from any agenda that favours one gender identity […] as preferable over other gender […] diversities” and yet ‘affirmation’ explicitly favours one identity over another and is wholly dependent upon the agenda of trans activists who have fought to impose this approach.
The statement “no gender identity is inherently preferable to any other” hides the fact that this ideology says that one kind of sexed body is preferable to the other and that the only treatment pathway is medical change of the body to ‘match’ the identity. Under the guise of ‘support’, the assertion “your identity is right” is a cover-up for the underlying message “your body is wrong.”
Professionals are warned that ‘conversion therapy’ constitutes any attempt to ‘bring about a change in someone’s gender identity.’ In other words, even if a child’s belief does not match reality, it must be affirmed as the truth. In no other area of health care is a practitioner compelled to confirm a patient’s false belief. Protection of a child’s belief about which sex they are, by definition takes away all normal protections for a child’s body and fertility. Afraid to do anything which may lead to a change in identity, therapists are compelled to facilitate treatment to bring about medical change of the body.
With no trace of irony, righteous condemnation of ‘conversion therapy’ is used to justify the most extreme medical ‘conversion’ of the physical body into cosmetic imitation of the opposite sexed body. Why, uniquely in this case, are children and young people’s bodies not protected from unnecessary and invasive treatment with some effects irreversible and others unknown, while their beliefs are considered worthy of our greatest efforts at preservation?
Grooming gangs who preyed on 700 women and girls in north-east England acted with “arrogant persistence” after police were seen to be punishing victims for their situation, a serious case review has found.
The report from the retired barrister David Spicer into the response by authorities in Newcastle to child sexual exploitation concluded that victims received effective protection after the launch of a Northumbria police investigation in January 2014. Before that, however, the force’s actions lacked consistency and had little impact, it said.
Seventeen men and one woman were jailed last year for being part of a network that plied 22 women and girls aged 13-25 with drink and drugs before sexually assaulting them between 2011 and 2014.
The trials were the result of the Northumbria police investigation Operation Shelter, part of the larger Operation Sanctuary, the force’s investigation into the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and adults. The report said Sanctuary had identified 700 victims in the force’s area. Perpetrators have received a total of 429 years and three months in prison as part of the operation.
Addressing the response from authorities before 2014, the report said perpetrators were not consistently investigated or interviewed. “Historical information was not routinely accessed and incidents were treated as separate occurrences with no strategy to pull information together to improve understanding of the whole picture,” it said.
“While perpetrators were not punished or disrupted, attempts to persuade victims to change behaviours and not return to the abusers led to consideration of deterrent punishments of victims for being drunk and disorderly or for making false allegations when accounts were changed. Some victims were placed in secure accommodation.
“This sent an unhelpful message to perpetrators. They were unlikely to be prosecuted or prevented from continuing to abuse, encouraging an arrogant persistence. It also had a significant impact on victims who learnt that nothing would be done against perpetrators.”
The report highlighted a stark contrast between the approach taken before and after early 2014, when a Northumbria police investigation was first launched, but it stressed that many of the reasons identified for lack of action in reviews in other cities – including ignoring whistleblowers, members of the public or families, lack of compassion or empathy, misplaced concerns about political correctness and fears of allegations of racism – did not occur in Newcastle.
It did, however, add: “Practitioners did feel that early responses had the appearance of blaming the victims for their behaviour and allocating them responsibility for making bad choices.”
The report detailed victims’ accounts of sexual abuse after being drugged. “I never had sex when I was sober,” one victim told Spicer. “I wanted to leave. I was given drink. I kept saying no and fighting them off. I was very tired and fell asleep. When I woke, I had been raped.”
“I didn’t think what was happening was wrong,” said another. “I thought they were my friends. They bought me drink and drugs. I thought it was OK because of my family. Then it became more sinister. Different. There were parties with men a lot older: 30-40, when previously 20-21.”
QotD: “countries where there is high equality between men and women, the difference between men and women is very small on our spatial navigation test”
Men are better at navigating than women, according to a massive study, but there’s not much for men to be proud about.
Scientists at University College London say the difference has more to do with discrimination and unequal opportunities than any innate ability.
The findings come from research into a test for dementia.
But it has also given an unprecedented insight into people’s navigational ability all around the world.
The experiment is actually a computer game, Sea Hero Quest, that has had more than four million players.
It’s a nautical adventure to save an old sailor’s lost memories and with a touch of a smartphone screen, you chart a course round desert islands and icy oceans.
The game anonymously records the player’s sense of direction and navigational ability.
One clear picture, published in the journal Current Biology, was that men were better at navigating than women. But why?
Prof Hugo Spiers thinks he has found the answer by looking at data from the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index – which studies equality in areas from education to health and jobs to politics.
He told the BBC: “We don’t think the effects we see are innate.
“So countries where there is high equality between men and women, the difference between men and women is very small on our spatial navigation test.
“But when there’s high inequality the difference between men and women is much bigger. And that suggests the culture people are living in has an effect on their cognitive abilities.”
QotD: “wait till they find out what the world does to that unnameable class of people who don’t have penises!”
Crikey. If Pink News finds this vile, wait till they find out what the world does to that unnameable class of people who don’t have penises!
If only the same outrage that’s prompted by naming the unbepenised could be roused in response to what’s done to them as a class
For those who don’t know, a ‘MAP’ is a ‘minor attracted person’, it is the terminology of choice on tumblr, where you can find ‘MAP positivity’ blogs. The nested triangles is a paedophile symbol going back to PIE (Paedophile Information Exchange) and NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) days (the het paedophile version is nested butterflies).
This is nothing new, paedophiles have been trying to get themselves seen as a ‘sexual minority’ since the ‘sexual revolution’ at least, but it is particularly pernicious on tumblr, because of the young age range using the site, their lack of critical thinking, and the general environment of looking for the newest oppressed ‘minority’ to support.
We need to remember, paedophiles don’t just groom their victims, they groom their communities as well. I do believe there is such a thing as an ‘ethical paedophile’ (that is, someone who is distressed by their sexual impulses, and does not want to act on them), but ‘ethical paedophiles’ do not hang around on social media trying to get sympathy from children.