Stop Church Child Abuse!January 27, 2012
Today, Friday 27th January, I attended a meeting of lawyers, survivors and interested parties in London to launch the campaign for a public enquiry into the scandal of child abuse which is hitting religious institutions in this country. Esther Rantzen was there, as was Sean O’Neil, the journalist behind the expose in The Times last week. We heard impassioned speeches from Anne Lawrence from MASCAS (Ministry and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) and Sue Cox from Survivors Voice Europe. Contributions from the floor came from the likes of The Lantern Project and NAPAC (the National Association of Children Abused in Childhood). Ms Rantzen had great ideas to support our media campaign, using television drama and theatre to bear witness to the scandal. All good stuff and I think we have the makings of a campaign. I personally called for a focus on our aims here, which have to be survivor-led. So for example do we want it to be a criminal offence not to report abuse? We heard that certainly one Catholic bishop in the past has hidden behind the fact that that is not the law in this country, and there was therefore no legal compulsion for him to inform the police about allegations against one of his priests. Appalling! And I certainly think we should look at this. Also maybe a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to allow survivors to speak their truths and be listened to by those responsible for the perpetrators. And how about a Redress Board, similar to that set up in the Republic of Ireland, to make it easier for people who have been abused to access compensation to pay for much needed therapy and to help them get their lives back on track? Through my role on the executive committee of APIL (The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) I pledged support for the campaign and the ability to utilise the formidable lobbying experience of that organisation, as it is crucial we get MP’s, peers and ultimately ministers behind our proposal.
Please support the cause, and I will keep followers of this blog updated as the weeks and months unfold. This will not be an easy fight, but we need to take action now.