Love is all that matters?  Try telling that to sex-abuse victims.

Nine men on trial at the Old Bailey, charged with grooming and raping over 50 young girls in a child trafficking ring based in Oxford!  Whatever next for the dreaming spires?  Surely enough to make Bodley turn in outrage in his grave?

For these purposes, trafficking is legally defined as any act of recruitment or transportation, by means of threat, abuse, force, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including prostitution.   Which is what, it would appear, happened here.   One girl, for example, has described being turned into a sex slave at the age of eleven, while another has told how she was branded with hot metal twisted into the shape of an M for Mohammed, as sign of ‘ownership’, then later hit over the head with a baseball bat and raped for refusing to have sex.  Another has related how, at the age of 12, she was forced to undergo an illegal abortion in a grubby back room in Reading.

All the girls have apparently testified to the fact that at the time they believed themselves to be ‘in love’ with their abusers.  Said one, “He told me he loved me. He said he would take me to Saudi Arabia when I was 15 and marry me.”

If it were not all so incredibly tragic, it would be laughable.  Young, lonely children – which is what these girls were – desperate for attention and love, taken in by ravening sex monsters; who treated them with contempt.

What kind of animals would do this to vulnerable young girls?  What depths of depravity would allow one human being to treat another with such deliberate cruelty?  We are told the social mores of other cultural traditions mean that the accused hold vastly different attitudes to those we normally expect.  But can this puerile excuse ever be allowance for such behaviour?

Of course not, butVfJUK argues that we too must now take our share of blame.  As a society we have actively encouraged sexual licence and promiscuity – we routinely teach our young, for example, that it’s fine to have sex as soon as they feel ready, and that commitment is irrelevant.  It’s all, we say, about self expression and rights.

No, it is not – but without doubt, it’s the sexual expectations of our society that predisposed these abused children to accept the actions of these evil and depraved men as love.  

If we had been doing our job properly, teaching these kids that sex was something special, and that they themselves were infinitely precious, they would have run in horror from the first seedy overtures of these predators, who dressed up their courtship with a quick fondle, offers of free kebabs and drugs, then demanded that they ‘service’ their friends.

Whatever the outcome of this trial, we are none of us innocent.  Yes, we need to drive this evil from our shores, and protect our young.  But we can only do that if we first clean up our own act.  Which means, as top priority, that we must stop sexualising our children, and teaching them that unbridled sex without commitment is a viable and acceptable way to live. 

Rather, we must send out the message loud and clear that real love means commitment, faithfulness and responsibility to another.  And that there is a time for such blooming, which  mustn’t be rushed for fear that it will kill the flower.  And we must teach them by the only way that really matters… by example. 

On April 13th, VfJUK is holding a conference looking at the whole area of sexual exploitation. By bizarre coincidence it’s in Oxford, but this is a problem happening everywhere – Rochdale, Manchester, Nottingham … without doubt, it’s in a town near you.  So come to our conference, and find out the real scale of the problem, and what you can do to help.  For further details visit: http://www.vfjuk.org/#!eventfse/c8ui 

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