YP Comment: Society’s debt to Ann Cryer over CSE and political correctness

The scale of child sex abuse in Bradford
The scale of child sex abuse in Bradford

THERE will be many who attribute disturbing levels of child sexual abuse in Bradford, and the surrounding area, to political correctness and the serial failure of the authorities concerned to apprehend the predominantly Asian perpetrators of such misery.

Equally, there is a cohort of people who believe the apparent rise has been brought about by victims having the strength to report their attackers.

Ann Cryer, former MP for Keighley

Ann Cryer, former MP for Keighley

Either way, one fact is irrefutable. Without the then Keighley MP Ann Cryer daring to speak out when she started dealing with a particularly harrowing constituency case which would have far-reaching consequences, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of CSE cases around the country which would not have come to light.

Vilified at the time for speaking once unspeakable truths, and being prepared to challenge the authorities – and also Muslim community leaders – for downplaying the depravity which has subsequently shocked Britain, the voiceless would not have been offered a voice, and hope, by a now vindicated former politician who was never given sufficient credit for taking such a brave stand.

Welcome progress has been made in the past decade or so.

Yet complacency is not an option – only this week it emerged that several opportunities were missed to stop a vile gang of Asian men from sexually abusing a young girl on a systematic basis.

And though it does appear that lessons have, for once, been learned, the scars will last a lifetime and the challenge now is ensuring that all victims of sexual abuse have the confidence to come forward.

They will now do so safe in the knowledge that they will be treated with far more respect than all those girls, and young women, who were violated, humiliated and expected to suffer in silence because their perpetrators thought they were above the law.

They were not and, hopefully, justice will now catch up with their vile crimes.