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Au pair?: the tenuous protection of live-in nannies
I have embarked on the journey dreaded by any London parent – the search for affordable childcare. My search so far has shown that rather than spending the average minimum of £12,000 a year, I could get childcare for as little as £3 per hour (well below the national minimum wage), plus bed and board, by getting an au pair. While nurseries and childminders (individuals who care for a limited number of children in their own home) are regulated and inspected by OFSTED, and nannies are considered formal employees and thus due relevant rights, the world of the au pair, who lacks the status of “worker” seems absent from oversight. The result is that au pairs (often young women) are potentially vulnerable to harsh and inappropriate working conditions. (more…)
‘Our Voices’: hearing from young people affected by sexual violence
This week’s guest post is written by Claire Cody. Claire is a Research Fellow at the International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire. Claire is Project Lead for ‘Our Voices’, a three-year pan-European project funded by the Oak Foundation. Prior to joining the Centre, Claire worked for Plan International’s Headquarters and was Oak Fellow at the Centre for Rural Childhood where she developed Home: The Child Recovery and Reintegration Network.
‘Our Voices’ builds on work undertaken by a team at the International Centre. The Centre prioritises children and young people’s participation. Recent projects include: working with young people living in gang-affected communities to develop short films related to stopping sexual violence; and supporting young people to develop resources for professionals and other young people about health and sexual exploitation as part of the ‘Be Healthy’ project. One of the Centre’s current project’s, Making Justice Work, uses participatory research methods with young people to understand their experiences of the justice system and to explore how the system could be improved for those affected by child sexual exploitation.
After trafficking. The (re)integration needs and experiences of trafficked children.
Regular contributor Rebecca Surtees from the NEXUS Institute is back this week. This post focuses on one of the findings identified in “After Trafficking. Experiences and challenges in the (re)integration of trafficked persons in the GMS”, a regional study of (re)integration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). The research study was commissioned by the six COMMIT governments as part of the 2nd and 3rd COMMIT Sub-regional Plan of Action (2008-2010 and 2011-2013). The study, conducted by NEXUS Institute, analysed the effectiveness of (re)integration processes and structures from the point of view of trafficked persons and the service providers that support them, uncovering whether and to what extent services currently offered to trafficking victims and their families are meeting their (re)integration needs, including any unmet assistance needs. The study was coordinated by the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and was overseen by a Regional Working Group comprised of Save the Children UK, World Vision International, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), NEXUS Institute and UNIAP.
This study was based on in-depth interviews with 252 trafficked persons from all six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) about their experiences of (re)integration, including successes and challenges, as well as future plans and aspirations. The study included persons who had been identified and assisted, as well as those who were not identified and/or did not receive assistance. Understanding the diverse and complex post-trafficking trajectories sheds light on a wide range of issues and dynamics at play in the (re)integration processes in the GMS. It also highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of existing (re)integration mechanisms and processes. (more…)
Slut-shamed: perpetuating mythologies of (underage) consent
The inevitable media backlash against the trials and convictions of “celebrities” for the sexual exploitation of girls has begun in the UK. The long-simmering idea that children could be complicit in, and indeed consent to their own abuse, has surfaced. For example, Eddie Shah, a former owner of the Today newspaper, found not guilty of six counts of rape of a girl under the age of 16, said in an interview:
Rape was a technical thing – below a certain age. But these girls were going out with pop groups and becoming groupies and throwing themselves at them… If we’re talking about girls who just go out and have a good time, then they are to blame. If we talk about people who go out and actually get ‘raped’ raped, then I feel no … everything should be done against that.
A column by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail focused heavily on the dropping of sexual offences charges against another entertainer, Jim Davidson, accusing the associated police operation, Yewtree, of becoming a witch-hunt. These public pronouncements, notably by men, have been matched by worrying developments in a recent sexual assault case in which the prosecuting barrister, Robert Colover, described the 13-year-old victim as “predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced.” The defendant was found guilty of sexual activity with a child, among other offences, but was given a suspended sentence. Criticism, including from the Lord Chief Justice, was levelled at the judge in the case for his comments at sentencing that the victim “looked and behaved older”, a factor he took into account when deciding the sentence. (more…)
Exploiting age: the risk of ignoring agency
In the shadow of recent child exploitation cases in the UK, policymakers have turned their attention to a spate of issues affecting vulnerable children, as Jeni Page highlighted in her post on children residing in state care homes. In conjunction, violence and exploitation experienced by teenagers is becoming more visible. Consideration has been given to an expanded definition of domestic violence, which now includes teenagers, in recognition of the types of partner violence they face, as well as the failings of the child protection system to older children. Recently, a High Court ruling, in HC (A Child,), R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor  EWHC 982 (Admin) (25 April 2013) addressed the practice of treating 17-year-old child suspects as adults in police stations. It also addressed the refusal by the Secretary of State to amend the relevant Police Code that enabled this treatment, despite the fact that such treatment is inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and s.11 of the Children Act 2004, which recognizes the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of those under 18.
Violence tends to be categorically experienced by children or adults, lacking an examination of the continuity of the experience of violence across age. But the problems of vulnerable children are not always clearly demarcated by age or type of abuse, complicating risk management and protection. Tension exists in distinguishing between children and adults, especially as this relates to their roles as victims and perpetrators. For instance, regarding the child protection system, the Education Select Committee reported, “childcare professionals needed to understand that a teenager could be a vulnerable ‘child in need’ just as much as a young child.” And, in recognizing the disconnect between child protection and immigration policies, “trafficked children found in criminal settings must always be treated as victims and children first, and not just as criminals”. (more…)