Pitcairn victims of child sex abuse win compensation

October 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

Pitcairn victims of child sex abuse win compensation Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent The Guardian,  10/10/08 Victims of child sex abuse on Pitcairn island, the remote British outpost in the South Pacific, will receive compensation from the British government, the Foreign Office announced yesterday. The move comes after victims of the abuse, which first emerged in 1999 as a widespread problem on Pitcairn going back to the late 1950s and involving the rape and sexual abuse of girls as young as seven, stepped up their campaign for compensation. The women, now aged in their mid-20s to late-50s, earlier this year threatened a class action and instructed a New Zealand QC to represent them. In what is effectively a U-turn for the British government, which initially refused to meet demands for compensation, the new scheme will now compensate victims of abuse from 1961 onwards on the condition that they “renounce any and all potential, existing or future claims or cases against the United Kingdom”. The scheme brings the treatment of women from Pitcairn in line with rape victims in the UK, enabling them to potentially claim up to £44,000 compensation depending on the severity of their physical and psychological injuries. In a written statement, Gillian Merron, the Foreign Office minister for overseas territories, said: “What happened to these women was terrible and no amount of money will take that pain away. But I hope this will give them some recognition of their suffering. This is a significant step and it is the right thing to do.”….Although nine women testified to the police, a further 17 refused to testify in court and there have long been concerns that the Pitcairn community as a whole has failed to condemn the abuse, with some islanders reportedly saying the incidents form part of a misunderstood culture of “breaking in” young girls….Last week the Guardian reported on a number of cases where adult victims of child abuse felt mistreated by CICA, which had attempted to dismiss their claims as “consensual”, despite evidence of their rape or sexual abuse as children. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/oct/10/law-foreignpolicy

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