Here in South Yorkshire residents have fought against all the odds, for over three decades to have the abuse of children stopped and for the plight of women and babies incarcerated in Magdalene Asylums to be recognised and redressed.
They have taken on State and Church to stand up for those often imprisoned in Ireland, for nothing more than being poor or being born out of wedlock. Decades later the horrors of abuse are still happening to children and women much closer to home.
The abuse of children is not confined to any one ethnic or religious group as the Savile and other abuse cases show. This is not to say however, that there are not patterns, and other signifiers that should not go ignored. In all cases these should have been addressed at the inception of concerns being raised.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child revolutionised the way we as a nation and a society were meant to view and protect children – duty bound to uphold their rights and protections.
Yet these rights and protections have been suppressed for short-term gain. Where myths and stereotypes about different groups in our society prevailed and institutions sought to manage institutional damage, or for some, prioritising securing gains in the next election; all taking precedence over the rights and protections of the children.
If institutions and groupings tasked with safeguarding children, were honest with themselves, they would admit that for too long, they have not always met their children’s rights and protection responsibilities as they should.
A society built on social justice, is a society that places high value on protecting and investing in its children and other innocents. It does not allow self-serving or agenda jumping onto bandwagons whose core desire is to cause community disunity.
I say this, not to blame or to look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how Rotherham, South Yorkshire and the UK, arrived at this moment that the potential for redress will occur and most importantly, for justice and healing for the harmed children and their families to transpire.