Thursday, 11 March 2010

This Welfare State

The revelations regarding the two sisters who suffered abuse and rape from their father over a very long period of time read like something from a sick pervert's novel. I had been aware of this case from the time of the father's trial but very little details was given at that time.

This is not primarily a matter where child protection failed. The frequency of the pregnancies should have sounded warning bells. Over a particular six year period, one or other of the females was pregnant. One had two children within a year and there were four occasions when both were pregnant at the same time. A number of the off-spring exhibited defects associated with incest and early death was a feature in over half the live births. We will never know how many miscarriages there were. Even if the women had a heightened state of fertility, the frequency of known pregnancies should have set off warning bells. Even a most casual reference to a police officer or child care official should have led to positive action. The RSPCA would have done a better job closing down a puppy farm.

The man who did this had his original sentence reduced from 19 and a half years to 14 and a half. On what grounds - were the sentencing authorities aware that a case review was pending? We are also told that no sackings, resignations or criminal charges against any of the "care" workers will result. An excuse was put forward that social workers were afraid of the father and this limited their actions. The guy moved 67 times - again and again to put himself out of reach of carers so how could they even begin to comprehend his nature in such short exposure times. Not anywhere long enough to scare next door's cat. Did none of them consider the plight of the girls who were under his control 24/7 and thus likely be in fear. What about the gynaecological nurses and midwives - with the frequent moves it must have been that they were presenting for delivery without attending any ante-natal classes. Why were the girls not marked up for being seen by the sexual health staff? Did no local registrar spot the pattern - it was this factor that led to Shipman's exposure.

So - maybe they were scared; I see it as a post-event excuse. What liaison was there between the child care staff and the police. Any officer worth their salt would be only too happy to find an excuse to smash open a door and have a mooch about in a house. We do not know all of the more than 35 agencies who were involved - funny choice of words when involvement was the very last thing they were. Has anyone looked atthe Job Descriptions of the executives and confirmed whether this neglect is within their responsibilities or not. If it wasn't - what is being done to correct this? If I am the Health and Safety officer in a commercial enterprise and a stairway collapses it is not worth my wasting my breath denying responsibility and blaming the Premises Manager.

This is but the latest incident where we have failed little kids. Follow-up inquiries have identified faults in the system and the personnel appointed. With just the one exception, all have escaped scot free. Not even charged enough to send a bunch of flowers. Every time we have such an event and people get away scot free merely increases the complacency of others in the discipline. "The people in case X got away with it so no one will bother with me" Staff with caring responsibilities must have a clear duty to act - their best endeavours will not suffice. Even in this age of school uniform mothers, single parents to multiple fathers and the other sad circumstances the pregnancy history of these two girls should have stood out. This sort of whistle-blowing has to be taught and emphasised in the workplace. "I am a carer and I care" should be displayed everywhere in their workplace.

Seems that every minor injustice leads to demands for a 'full inquiry' but so far I have not seen any pressure for one into this desperately sad affair. We cannot even begin to call ourselves civilised or with any form of culture all the while things like this occur without punishment and correction.

Women's organisations all make much of the total degradation involved in rape. Most often, a one off event, quickly over with no lasting effect with good counselling. Just what did those two girls suffer - repeatedly attacked without warning, brutalised if they demurred and aware at all times what their sibling was suffering when dragged away by the brutal parent. Many women face childbirth with trepidation even with their companion alongside to give support - what must have been the effect on these girls when wheeled alone into the delivery room? Repeatedly, with the memory of what happened just a few months back still fresh in their minds. Some paedophiles claim they do what they do out of love; these two young women would never have seen what happened as containing the slightest affection.

Not mentioned is what will be happening to these broken butterflies? Put into a system which has already proven itself as totally and completely not fit for purpose I suppose.

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