Over the past few days we have seen a serious case review into the horrific murder of 16-year-old Becky Watts (Report, 15 March), and revelations about the extent of a child sexual exploitation in Telford (Report, 12 March).
They are very different and very complex cases. But in both, opportunities were missed to protect vulnerable girls. Too often teenage girls at risk of abuse and violence, especially those from working-class backgrounds, are seen by public services and wider society as the “problem”. We do not ask often enough what is the root cause of their behaviour. The result is girls who are victims end up getting the blame. Much greater effort needs to be made to listen to and believe these girls, in a way that acknowledges the trauma they have been through. This is about changing mindsets of public services coming into contact with at-risk girls, and also ensuring there is enough investment in services working with girls that the necessary support is there to help them rebuild their lives.
Director, Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk
• I was very moved by the letter signed by more than a thousand female aid workers following the exposure of the scandal of abuse in their sector (Report, 8 March).
This is an issue which I first raised in the House of Commons two years ago after a presentation at a conference I attended in Turkey. I have appealed for a register for those who have been accused of sex crimes so that they cannot just move from one aid agency to another.
This is an arena in which women, be they working or seeking help, should be safe and not at risk.
It is absolutely imperative that women who complain of abuse are heard – otherwise charities will lose credibility. The abuse of women has been going on for too long. It must be stopped and allegations must be investigated. It is vital this happens immediately so the work of aid agencies, in helping those in crisis, can move forward with full public support.
Pauline Latham MP
Conservative, Mid Derbyshire
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