Following the publication of the Operation Span Review, which highlighted the extent of child sexual exploitation perpetrated by grooming gangs in Rochdale from 2004-2013, there has rightly been increased media and political attention towards child sexual exploitation.
The ASE Partnership, STAGE was developed in areas and with partners who had knowledge and/or provided direct support during the following investigations into sexual exploitation:
- Operations Sanctury
- Operation Stovewood
- Operation Tendersea
- Operation Applehall
- Operation Linden
- Operation Cotton
Please note, this list is not exhaustive. Alongside these high-profile investigations there have been and continues to be smaller scale or singular investigations into this form of sexual abuse.
The eight charities who form our partnership: The Angelou Centre, Ashiana, A Way Out, Basis, Changing Lives, GROW, Together Women, and WomenCentre, have each supported women in cases incredibly similar to Operation Span, and we are glad to see such a focus being brought to child sexual exploitation.
The ASE Partnership, STAGE recognises that child sexual exploitation can often continue into adulthood. However, we also recognise that sexual exploitation can also begin in adulthood.
For 72% of women supported by STAGE, exploitation began in adulthood.
Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge and professional curiosity many of the women report their experiences were overlooked and/or misunderstood.
In a recent debate a government minister commented that “the adult, simply by virtue of being an adult, has more ability to vocalise their experience than a child does.” A police officer said to a member of the ASE Partnership that a woman we support.
“couldn’t be experiencing exploitation, because she’s over 18.”
Such misconceptions re-enforce the abuse and prolong the detection and prevention of this form of sexual abuse. Further still, such high-profile operations have led to additional misconceptions of status, race of both victims and perpetrators of this abuse. As a partnership we challenge such misconceptions. Ashiana is a by-and-for BAMER women provision within the ASE Partnership.
Ashiana highlights being motivated by the values of the partnership and appreciates strength and numbers through the creative partnership we are part of with the stage project.
Our aim for the future is to continue to advocate and highlight Adult Sexual Exploitation and for officials to widely recognise this form of sexual abuse has no age limit!
For more information on how sexual exploitation effects adults, and how attitudes shift once an individual reaches 18, follow this link.