Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins today (3 March 2015) announced a new £250,000 fund to support women and give them the confidence to speak out against abuse and child sexual exploitation within their communities.
The recent Jay and Casey inquiries found a reluctance to discuss the subject and challenge abusive behaviour within the Pakistani heritage community in Rotherham. Concerns about under-reporting have been echoed in other communities around the country.
Professor Jay says in her report that “women and girls in the Pakistani community in Rotherham should have been encouraged and empowered by the authorities to speak out about perpetrators and their own experiences as victims of sexual exploitation.” She recommended that strategies should be developed “that support young women and girls from the community to participate without fear or threat”. And Louise Casey called for more to be done to address the “culture of denial” in Rotherham.
To help overcome some of these barriers, the Department for Communities and Local Government is backing a new Women’s Empowerment Fund for voluntary groups.
The fund is one of a number of measures being announced by the government today. It is part of a national action plan to prevent further child sexual exploitation, better support victims where it has occurred and hold those responsible to account.
And, ahead of International Women’s Day this weekend, Minister Kris Hopkins said:
Giving women and girls a voice, and importantly the confidence to use it to challenge sexual exploitation, is one of the ways we can address a culture of denial.
A number of barriers to speaking up exist, particularly for some women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups. This may be through an inability to speak English sufficiently, limited knowledge of how reporting processes work, or a lack of confidence to take on patriarchal cultures. Others may themselves have been victims of abuse.
We are completely committed to challenging this abhorrent behaviour wherever it occurs and this new fund will support that work.
Voluntary and community groups who work with women are from today invited to apply for funding of up to £20,000 for local community engagement projects for 2015 to 2016.
As well as delivering innovative projects to empower women, successful bidders will be expected to produce case studies backed up by evidence on how empowering women can help tackle child sexual exploitation. These will then be used for sharing across government and with other voluntary and charitable sector and public sector groups.
See more details on the government’s response to child sexual exploitation.