Rotherham MP in fight to change the law

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A South Yorkshire MP is celebrating after ministers agreed to consider removing the term ‘child prostitutes’ from Government legislation concerning victims of child sexual exploitation.

Sarah Champion, who represents Rotherham, has been lobbying for the removal of the terminology since her involvement in a major study into the sexual exploitation of children by children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The work was commissioned after it emerged that victims in Rotherham had been failed by the authorities for years, with leaked reports revealing a lack of action and prosecutions of culprits despite allegations of abuse and of gangs of men grooming vulnerable youngsters for sex.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Champion urged ministers to take action and to remove archaic references to ‘child prostitutes’ from British law.

“There are currently 16 pieces of legislation that use the term ‘child prostitute’,” the Labour MP said.

“I have spoken to young people who have been victims of child sexual exploitation, and they say the expression makes them feel dirty and complicit.”

Home Affairs Minister Norman Baker said he was ‘very sympathetic’ to proposals recommended in the Barnardo’s report published last month.

He praised Ms Champion’s work and said he will consider how best to alter existing legislation.

“I am very sympathetic to that suggestion,” he said.

“Children who are sexually exploited, whether for commercial or other reasons, should not be referred to as prostitutes. They are victims.

“We will consider references in all legislation and guidance as opportunities arise, as well as considering carefully the wording used in any new legislation or guidance.”