Children who have been sexually exploited are being denied compensation by a government agency on the grounds that they ‘consented’ to their abuse, a coalition of charities has revealed.
Child sexual abuse victims as young as 12-years-old are being denied compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), even if their attackers have been jailed, the coalition comprising Barnardo’s, Victim Support, Liberty, Rape Crisis and the National Working Group (NWG) has warned.
While the law states it’s a crime to have sexual activity with someone under the age of 16, this is not reflected in compensation decisions. Payment rules are being interpreted to suggest children can consent to their abuse.
Chief Executive of Victim Support, Mark Castle said: “It is ridiculous, nonsensical and morally wrong to pretend that a child has consented to sexual abuse and to then use this as an excuse not to pay compensation. Any child that suffers sexual abuse is a victim – full stop.
“We call upon ministers to urgently bring about change to CICA’s guidelines so that these young people are treated fairly. They have already suffered horrendously and to be told they will not receive a payment because they willingly participated in their abuse is awful and extremely upsetting for them to hear,” he added.
A Freedom of Information request carried out by the coalition has found that since the CICA scheme launched in November 2012, nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse have been refused payments ranging between £1,000 and £44,000.
The coalition is calling for the rules to be changed so no child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding, or being brainwashed into believing their abuser loved them and developing feelings for them.
A YouGov poll for the campaign shows two thirds of people think the rules should be amended so a child cannot be found to have 'consented' to activities involved in their sexual exploitation.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said: “For children to be denied compensation on the grounds that they ‘consented’ to the abuse they have suffered is nothing short of scandalous.
“The very rules that are supposed to protect children are actually harming them.
“The government must urgently review CICA’s guidelines so that young victims receive the redress they deserve. Ministers must guarantee that no child will ever be told that they consented to their own abuse,” concluded Mr Khan.