From the court appearances of accused TV stars to historic scandals involving priests, music teachers and care workers, to the killing of young girls, Britain’s news pages, websites and TV bulletins are awash with cases of the sexual abuse of children. This week the shocking details of the depravity of a group of men in Oxford were revealed during a court case which saw a gang of eight convicted of the rape and torture of six girls over more than a decade. The conclusion to be drawn is that in Britain sexual exploitation and predation is endemic; that it goes back decades and continues into the present. Many perpetrators have been allowed to continue their crimes unchallenged.
The Catholic Church was one of the first institutions in this country to stand accused of negligence in its dealing with the child victims of abuse and the handling of their abusers. Some critics of the Church blamed its tradition of a celibate priesthood, claiming that sexual frustration was the primary cause. But the scandals now coming to light show that celibacy is not a common denominator. Paedophilia is about power, about people in positions of authority, or who are famous, or are even ordinary but have gained power through long-term grooming of children, who target the vulnerable and defenceless.
The Tablet, editorial, 18.05.2013