Rotherham MP Sarah Champion joined the laying of flowers in Westminster to commemorate child abuse victims - and promised to help victims fight for justice.
Ms Champion helped lead a one-minute silence at a special event in London organised to support a campaign calling for a statutory inquiry focusing on organised and institutional child abuse from 1945.
A group, including abuse survivors and MPs, laid a variety of flowers next to the House of Parliament among pictures of victims before a meeting in Parliament to discuss the inquiry and to call for more to be done to help survivors achieve justice.
Around 300 people attended a debate in Parliament ahead of the flowers being laid.
MPs John Mann and Simon Danczuk also joined the victims, including Jenny Tomlin, mother of former EastEnders star Martine McCutcheon. Ms Champion said the most important thing for her was that ‘victims and survivors are listened to’.
She added: “The reason the Theresa May inquiry is falling down is because the victims weren’t involved in it from the very beginning.
“Their voices need to be heard. For too long they’ve not been listened to, they’ve not been supported, and their perpetrators in many cases are still out there.”
She said she ‘completely understands’ why victims and survivors may have no trust in authorities.
“If, for decades, you’ve been going and reporting your abuse and just seeing it being covered up, why on earth would you start trusting now?
“I think the only way that we can get people to trust us again is by our actions. It’s by delivering, it’s by listening to them, and it’s by catching the perpetrators.”
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Champion said her experiences in Rotherham speaking to victims of the child sexual exploitation scandal means she is well aware of the ‘devastating impact’ of abuse.
She said the Government needs to ‘act urgently’ to deliver its planned child abuse inquiry.
“Meeting so many survivors of child abuse today has been an emotional experience and only serves to strengthen my belief that the Government needs to act urgently with its child abuse inquiry,” she said.
“As Rotherham MP, I am well aware of the devastating impact that child abuse can have on victims and on the community as a whole. I am working hard to provide support to those victims within my constituency.
“Child abuse is not just an issue in Rotherham, it is nationwide. The Government has failed to recognise just how unprepared this country is and we need to see more action from David Cameron than just the commissioning of flawed inquiries.
“I hope that the meeting will go some way to opening the Government’s eyes as to how important it is that the national inquiry delivers justice for victims and survivors and protects our children for generations to come.”
Two candidates to chair the Government’s inquiry - Baroness Butler-Sloss and ex-lord mayor of London Fiona Woolf - have already had to stand down over their establishment links.