It is time to consider if the staggeringly widespread rape abuse and prostitution of underage girls and young women, by gangs operating seemingly with impunity across wide areas of the UK, constitute crimes against humanity.
A crime against humanity is a widespread, systematic attack on a civilian population, representing an especially odious crime, perpetrated by a government, a de facto authority, or condoned or tolerated by a government or de facto authority. They constitute a serious attack on human dignity, or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings.
The abuse by rape gangs in various UK towns is now known to be almost unbelievably common – an estimated 2000 cases in Rotherham alone, which if extrapolated over the rest of the country, would make for hundreds of thousands of cases. Moreover, if you take only a second to think about it, the horrors visited on these girls and young women will also be deeply felt by their whole communities. Parents frantic with grief and despair. Siblings terrified it might happen to them. Decent young men finding that so many of the young women in their community are battle-scarred from sexual abuse. Children growing up to realise that they were conceived in rape. Whilst not wishing at all to detract from the unimaginable suffering of the direct victims, when abuse is as ubiquitous as this, the whole community is deeply deeply damaged. Moreover, who will provide the support to those in such dire need – with health needs, psychological needs, devastated education and employment prospects?
Then add to this the refusal of so many in authority to do anything about this. The times girls and frantic parents called on the police and other authorities only to be brushed aside. The knowledge of those in positions of power in local authorities who turned a blind eye. Add to this the refusal by many to take a long hard look at what was going on, those terrified to even contemplate that perhaps the cultural and religious background of many of the perpetrators might be a factor. Add to this various truly unbelievable events such as the closure by Rotherham council of an effective service that was helping victims, Risky Business.
Then I’d say there’s a pretty good argument for taking seriously the thought that these may truly represent crimes against humanity.