The fifty boys who were abused, exploited and raped, and how nobody gives a damn


I’m sure this week you will have read the horrifying details drawn from the serious case review by Oxfordshire Council.

The Guardian reported it like this.

“Professionals blamed Oxfordshire girls for their sexual abuse, report finds”

The Mirror: “Oxfordshire child abuse: 373 girls may have been victims of ‘indescribably awful’ sex exploitation”

The Express: ‘Police force is ashamed’ Up to 373 girls may have been sex abuse victims in Oxfordshire

Daily Mail “Hundreds of girls may have been sexually exploited after authorities repeatedly failed to tackle grooming gangs”

I had BBC radio on for much of the day on Tuesday, and every news bulletins carried updates on the hundreds of girls who had been abused in Oxford.

The story was prominent and consistent across every newspaper, every broadcaster, every news website. Hundreds of girls had been horribly abused, and horribly let down by the authorities.

There was one exception. Someone at the BBC local news site in Oxfordshire was actually doing his or her job.
“Of the 373 cases, the council said about 50 victims were boys.”

The rest of the media (with the exception of the Mirror who carried the fact in a follow-up report) entirely ignored this detail. Almost one in seven of the child abuse victims in Oxford has been almost completely expunged from history, like inconvenient faces in Stalin’s photo album.

This is an appalling, shameful failure by the media. Imagine for one moment that you are one of those desperate young men who was victimised by grooming gangs, raped, abused, exploited, and who had the courage to recount your experiences to investigators, authorities or police. Then you open a newspaper or turn on the radio or television to be told that you do not exist. Your abuse did not happen. What message would you take from that except that nobody gives a damn about you?

Compounding that horror, there are countless thousands, even millions of male survivors of child sexual abuse who are now accustomed to being marginalised, sidelined and ignored by authorities and the media. Their invisibility becomes a vicious circle – when people think of victims of sexual abuse they do not think of boys, so when policies are designed to prevent abuse or help survivors they are not designed with boys in mind, which simply feeds the belief that such survivors do not exist.

This is not the first time I have blogged about abused boys being simply made to vanish, but I think it may be the most egregious, appalling instance I have ever encountered. My heart, my love and my utmost admiration goes out to the 320 girls who were so grievously exploited and horribly failed, and to the 50 boys who were treated likewise, but are now not even afforded the dignity of acknowledgement.

It is days like this which make me ashamed to be a journalist.

Comments

  1. samgardner says

    That’s pretty sad. One of those articles (the Daily Mail one) even quotes, “Five of the seven perpetrators convicted over abuse in the county were of Pakistani heritage, while the victims were all white British girls.

  2. Ally Fogg says

    samgardner

    Yep. It is not clear from that, but there were more grooming gangs and abusers than the specific one mentioned. So while (I presume) it is true that that specific gang who were convicted only abused white girls, they weren’t the only victims in the county.

  3. Wistilia says

    Nothing new here from the media, it is just more of the same where girls are seen as more important (or to be kind newsworthy) than boys.

  4. Suzn McQueen says

    or maybe it’s because girls are more easily hyper-sexualized in the news than boys. Gets more reads because rape culture and patriarchy.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    when people think of victims of sexual abuse they do not think of boys

    I disagree. What single identifiable group of people in society are most identified as being child abusers? I’d suggest Catholic priests. And I’d further suggest that the stereotype of their victims are boys.

    When people think of victims of Pakistani gang sexual abuse, or 70s television personality sexual abuse (the currently fashionable abusers in the media coverage), then yes, that’s girl victims, stereotypically. But in general in tabloids, historically child abuse is entirely summed up by the phrase “fiddling around with little boys”, and it’s the girls who were marginalised.

  6. proudmra says

    It’s not just sex crimes. The news this morning was also raving about the terrorist group Boko Harum which has been “using” teenage and younger girls as suicide bombers. Now, they’ve had teenage and younger boys doing this kind of thing for quite awhile… but aside from an occasional token “gee, these guys are messed up” it was assumed that they were just brainwashed cultists choosing to die. After all, teenage boys… crazy already, amirite? And when a teenage boy kills innocent people and offs himself in the process, well, that’s religious fanaticism for you. Too bad nobody gunned the fucker down before he reached a populated area.

    But now that girls are involved, suddenly there is VICTIMIZATION going on. The girls are being USED. And nobody can search or scan or even suspect a teenage GIRL of terrorism; that simply can’t happen. There’s certainly no possibility that they’re terrorists who have chosen to kill and die for the glory of their religion, no sir… these are Innocent Victims Being Led Astray and Forced Into Tragic Death. The difference in media coverage is blatant and sickening.

  7. 123454321 says

    “because rape culture and patriarchy.”

    That can’t be so because rape culture and patriarchy are a convenient figment of feminist imagination.

  8. Edward Barrow says

    They were all *children*. Gender shouldn’t be an issue, they were vulnerable and exploited children.

    And mostly children in care. We are now supposed to call them “looked-after children”. Except they haven’t been cared for or looked after.

    Without wishing to lessen in any way the depravity of the perpetrators, these stories are first and foremost about a systemic failure in the care system. Focusing on the perpetrators’ race is a distraction, which will whip up a racist witch-hunt. The problem is the care system.

  9. 123454321 says

    For the zillionth time…the media is so scared of feminist persuasion and threat of business-damaging expression of feminist disapproval that they have been forced to sink into a mixed up world of visible, hateful misandry compounded, in with the mix, by a purposeful behavioural characteristic designed to completely fucking ignore any issues which affect men and boys, even when those issues are directly aligned alongside women and girls, such as this example noticed/cited by Ally.

    The rate at which men and boys are noticing this type of misandry must surely be growing exponentially, because it sure as hell can’t continue if we are to obtain true equality and start to make men feel like human beings!

  10. Ally Fogg says

    Suzn McQueen [5]

    or maybe it’s because girls are more easily hyper-sexualized in the news than boys. Gets more reads because rape culture and patriarchy.

    I’d agree there is a bit of that going on, but that would explain why they might have focused on salacious details of cases involving girls, but it doesn’t really justify completely wiping boys out of the story.

  11. Pluviann says

    Sorry to be a bore, but do you have a link to the original case review? The Oxford Council website is about as useful and well designed as any council website and so I’m having trouble finding it. I’ve found the ‘recent news‘ page which lists a serious of documents published. I clicked on the first link ‘Overview Report’ and on the third page of that document at paragraph ix in the foreword it says:

    Five of the seven convicted perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage. No evidence has been seen of any agency not acting when they should have done because of racial sensitivities. The victims were all white British girls.

    Clearly this is just about the specific cases of children A-F, so I clicked back to case reviews page, but the summary listed at the top there appears to be an older document and not a recent review? I realise that journalists should have better research skills than me, but maybe some of them were as baffled by the layout as I am and went with the easily accessible documents?

  12. Pluviann says

    Oh wait, nevermind, I think I am reading the right document. I’ve got down to 2.6 where they explain the number of 373 over 15 years. My apologies for commenting too soon.
    Although, the review is refering to the victims as ‘girls’ all the way through so far. I can see why journalists would refer to the victims as girls if they skim-read the summary in order to get an article out quickly. I realise there’s no excuse for that either, but it’s slightly less horrfiying than the idea of journalists deliberately deciding not to mention the boys.

  13. Marduk says

    @Pluvian

    Hrm, but its funny just how consistently this “accidentally” happens.
    The behaviour of journalists here has no excuse, reporting the news accurately is their job.

    Having said, I am genuinely confused as to why this keeps happening. The conspiracy theories don’t really work me but neither does the incompetence angle. There is something here that we aren’t understanding, some systemic but unstated and unexamined underneath. Is it possible its to do with “women” as a news desk category getting this stuff routed to them by default, that kind of thing?

  14. says

    There were also boys amongst the abused in Rotherham (“more than 80”). But, if I recall correctly, the reports spoke of “children” rather than “girls” in general, though I guess most people assumed that it involved only girls. There is a particular issue with boys in view of the tradition of widespread abuse of “street boys” in Pakistan (I guess because girls are more protected – the flip-side of restricted freedom).

  15. redpesto says

    Marduk

    Is it possible its to do with “women” as a news desk category getting this stuff routed to them by default, that kind of thing?

    To vary an old news cliché: ‘Dog bites man’ is not news; ‘Dog bites woman’ is a news angle; ‘Woman bites dog’ is news because the news is full of men biting dogs.

    So on one level you’ve got a salacious/paternalist concern for girls and women. Or there’s the old melodrama principle of ‘torture the heroine’ – so woman as victim is more newsworthy. On another level, there is just enough of a female/feminist presence in the media to make ‘Dog bites woman’ an important issue as far as women are concerned, if only because the incident happened to a woman (‘Woman bites dog’ is still more ‘news angle’ than anything: see any ‘First woman to…’ headline, for example).

    Plenty of ‘gender’ articles rely on a default assumption that they’re about women and that anything that happens to women fits (or can be made to fit) into a ‘narrative’ of discrimination and/or violence. The experience of boys and men doesn’t fit that narrative, any more than it fits into a salacious/paternalist one – hence, no coverage.

  16. says

    That can’t be so because rape culture and patriarchy are a convenient figment of feminist imagination.

    123,454,321 shades of total unhinged disengagement from reality and counting. And he wonders why so many people ignore him?

  17. says

    Are we sure it’s the women, or the feminists, who are responsible for ignoring the abuse of boys? Given who is actually abusing most of the boys in these incidents — MEN,both with and without religious or secular power — I really don’t think that bashing women will do any good here. Who has the most to lose when the sexual abuse of boys gets more public attention? Powerful men, particularly men in religious institutions.

    (Oh, and since when was the Daily Mail a hive of feminist propaganda?)

  18. 123454321 says

    RB – Every time you speak, you strike another direct blow to the nails of the feminist coffin. Cheers, matey 😉

    “Are we sure it’s the women, or the feminists, who are responsible for ignoring the abuse of boys?”

    No, it’s men as well. But they’re operating within a feminised society which has moulded their entire behaviour based on feminist propaganda and social brainwashing. A bit like sheep to the slaughter for them!

    “I really don’t think that bashing women will do any good here”

    Nobody is bashing women, it’s the outdated feminist ideology that needs a good bashing.

  19. Ally Fogg says

    Pluvian

    Yes, I found the whole report this afternoon and skimmed through it.

    I think it is possible that the original omission was by the report authors, but it is also true that the BBC Oxford report went up the same day as the others, and if nothing else someone thought to ask, specifically, about male boys. And other papers could have done what the Mirror did, and picked up on the news in later coverage, which they have patently failed to do.

    The failure seems to run through every level of this.

  20. Ally Fogg says

    Raging Bee & 12345etc – can we limit the shit-flinging on both sides please?

    It is pretty unseemly with an issue like this above the line,

    ty

  21. 123454321 says

    A few lovely little bedtime reads for cutesy little RB to fall asleep over, which should keep him nice and quiet for half an hour before he wakes up in a really bad mood, only to demonstrate the usual, shameful, attention-seeking little tantrums of a feminist as he scrabbles around like a petulant, spoilt little child trying to find excuses for the fucked up anti-male world we live in today. Night-night, RB:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10824263/Does-Michelle-Obama-care-more-about-girls-than-boys.html

    http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/progressive-boko-haram-massacring-schoolboys-is-permissible-kidnapping-schoolgirls-is-a-human-rights-abuse-nigeria/

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/why-did-kidnapping-girls-but-not-burning-boys-alive-wake-media-up-to-boko-haram/

    https://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/boko-haram-kidnaps-97-boys-and-the-world-remains-silent/

  22. says

    But they’re operating within a feminised society which has moulded their entire behaviour based on feminist propaganda and social brainwashing.

    So when you’re called out on obvious falsehoods, you fall back on terms such as “feminized society,” which are vague to the point of being, not only unverifiable, but meaningless. Seriously, how do you determine which actions are caused by “feminization of society” and which are not? How do you even determine what “feminization” is?

  23. Marduk says

    Its still strange it happens with such consistency.

    I find it doubly odd that the Valentis and RLCs of this world don’t go hard on this. Its (a) easy to argue for as important issue given it is so overlooked, all the strong arguments come immediately to hand, which isn’t something you’ll find they manage easily in most of their output trying to link christmas present wrapping or Thomas the Tank Engine to oppression (b) you could make a name for yourself with a strong set of pieces on this topic, a long-form Atlantic piece would surely be on the cards, the book and the tours follow etc. (c) you’d counter all the things people say about your disinterest in equality (d) you’d be bullet-proof from that moment on.

    Its in absolutely nobodies interest to ignore this stuff. Not in a high minded ethical sense, not in a low minded grubbing pragmatist way. But it still happens. We need a good account of exactly why.

  24. redpesto says

    @Marduk #28: doing pieces on Christmas present-wrapping require (a) zero research or fieldwork (b) zero effort from commissioning editors. Plus, telling a feminist writer what they ‘ought’ to write gets pretty short shrift – better to seek out those writers who are doing good work on other important topics.

  25. proudmra says

    “So why DOES the media keep ignoring men and boys like this? What is driving it?”

    Because men are STILL viewed as disposable. Feminism hasn’t lifted a finger to change that, and it’s doubtful that it ever will.

  26. samgardner says

    “Feminism hasn’t lifted a finger to change that, and it’s doubtful that it ever will.”

    It’s possible a lot of feminists don’t consider that the job of feminism. I kind of see their point (though I think that would be rather short-sighted — part of gaining equality for women really has to be eliminating this perspective of men, since those who argue for the patriarchy would use this (indirectly, usually) as justification).

    Things like this are why I wish MRAs weren’t tied up with PUAs and rape apologists.

  27. John Allman says

    Who abused the boys? Men or women? Either way, it is taboo to mention male victims. One will either annoy the feminists, or one will annoy the “gays”. These are the two groups one isn’t allowed to annoy. I suggest that these too taboos play are significant role in the cover-up of male victims.

    It is fashionable to insinuate that male sexuality is delinquent, EXCEPT when HOMO sexuality is involved. Got it now?

  28. John Allman says

    @ samgardner

    I’ve never encountered an MRA who was a rape apologist, apart from Mike Buchanan, in one of his less successful attempts at humour, after he’d read a description of a 19th century psychiatric treatment for hysteria. I have, however, encountered apparent feminists who are abortion apologists. I know which apology I’d prefer to have to make, if I belonged to a debating society, and was told for which side of a debate I had to argue, purely as an academic exercise.

    If a daughter of mine wanted to marry a reformed rapist, or a crack dealer who had no intention of reforming, I would have more optimism than if she wanted to marry an abortionist.

  29. proudmra says

    “It’s possible a lot of feminists don’t consider that the job of feminism.”

    Indeed. Feminism is the “only solution” to men’s problems… until you actually ask them to DO something about men’s problems, then it becomes an irrelevant distraction from the REAL issues at hand. This sort of bait-and-switch goes on all the time, and male victims get lost in the shuffle.

  30. smrnda says

    123454321,

    One idea of patriarchy is that males are supposed to be strong, be able to protect themselves, and if they fail in this regard it is because they have failed to be adequately masculine. I can definitely see a connection between this attitude and sweeping male victims under the rug.

    Or is the idea that men are supposed to be this way *not* patriarchy?

  31. lelapaletute says

    I’m so appalled by this. And slightly by myself, because I never even considered that boys might be affected in these cases. And I was ably assisted in this preconception by the media, which has focussed so relentlessly on the ‘dark-skinned man: white-skinned girl’ angle, rather than the fact that most importantly, the victims are vulnerable, deprived CHILDREN. Makes me wonder how may other issues I consider to be gendered are actually just about relative power.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    the media, which has focussed so relentlessly on the ‘dark-skinned man: white-skinned girl’ angle

    I think this is key. The narrative around these grooming scandals is so firmly entrenched that that is the story. Even those who do know better and are aware of the more complex details still find it easier to just skip over it and tell the story that everyone expects to hear. It is sort of like the path of least resistance when you have 450 words to a deadline.

    [oh and hello lela, you’ve been missed!]

  33. says

    lelapaleute @36:

    Makes me wonder how may other issues I consider to be gendered are actually just about relative power.

    Thank you for this. Statements like that make me a little bit more optimistic about this issue.

  34. 123454321 says

    “….still find it easier to just skip over it and tell the story that everyone expects to hear.”

    Absolutely entirely agree with that. The path of least resistance, which often applies to the physical world, appears quite often to apply to social dynamics, especially if you’re running a powerful business linked to the world of media where you’re often treading on eggshells if you upset certain groups. Levels of acceptability as determined by who cries and shouts the loudest, and all that. Nothing is going to change until the status quo gets publicly challenged such that the responsible media channels are forced to acknowledge their failings (even if they’re inadvertent) by exposing their discrimination. But who is strong enough, and in a prominent enough position, to challenge and call this out?

  35. mildlymagnificent says

    when people think of victims of sexual abuse they do not think of boys

    Even if it was true in the past in Australia, it certainly isn’t now. I don’t think it ever was strictly about girls because of the common “jokes”, no longer funny even to the people who used to laugh at them, about priests both Catholic and Protestant and choirmasters and scout leaders and the like and their involvement with boys.

    Perhaps Britain could do with a Royal Commission into churches, schools and government institutions and their mistreatment of the children in their care. Plenty of girls affected, but a lot of the evidence is about boys. A lot of it. Our Royal Commission is cutting a huge swathe through schools, Jewish, Catholic and any and every other sort of religious home or school for children. From the state run homes through the Salvation Army and beyond.

    This is the most recent school to be put through the wringer http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/06/knox-grammar-sex-abuse-victims-headmaster-royal-commission-testimony

    This is the result of the last group put to public shame and disgrace
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/16/australias-top-rabbi-resigns-after-giving-evidence-at-sex-abuse-royal-commission

  36. StillGjenganger says

    @Mildly 40
    If you have a feel for the totality of the revelations, how do they seem to be distributed? Is this mostly about religious institutions? Or is it about any institution where children were in care and vulnerable, religious, not-particularly-religious, secular, and governmental?

  37. mildlymagnificent says

    It’s any and every institution as far as I can see.

    If you look at their list of hearings and reports there’s, predictably, the Christian Brothers and various Catholic archdiocese facilities. There’s also Swimming Australia, Salvation Army, Jewish schools, homes for indigenous children, an ashram, other private schools, government-run “training schools” for girls described as “delinquent”. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen other reports about other specific institutions, but the hearings for those apparently haven’t been scheduled yet. And I’d be very surprised if we didn’t find some men now coming out from behind the woodwork and putting a few more of those “training schools” through the same wringer as The Parramatta Training School for Girls has already been. http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases

    The biggest problem for the Royal Commission is that the longer it’s gone on, the more rotten stuff starts being exposed. They knew before they got started that this would happen. They also knew that, as each institution came before them, more victims would come forward. We’re basically washing 20 to 60 years worth of dirty linen in one horrible, long-drawn-out process. They instituted counselling facilities for the Commission’s staff before they even got started because they knew it would be stressful. They’re also “pacing” themselves in scheduling the private hearings where the victims first tell their stories. They don’t want to burn out before the job’s even done and they don’t want to lose their capacity for sympathy and empathy.

  38. Eggo says

    Ha, this isn’t something I’d expect from “Atheism+”, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to blame it on PATRIARCHY somehow.

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