Experts from across the globe will head to Dundee to discuss the impact and prevalence of ritual abuse
10th February 2020 by Gareth Jones
A conference later this month will look at the current international situation of ritual abuse (RA) and organised abuse of children.
International experts in the field of RA will come together in Dundee to discuss the impact and prevalence of RA and organised abuse on children and share best practice on support for young survivors. The conference will examine the current situation in the world and in the UK specifically to help workers and supporters to identify and help children who are affected by organised and ritualised abuse.
Dr Laurie Matthew OBE, coordinator of charity Eighteen And Under, will be presenting at the conference. She said: “This conference provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness and learn more about organised and ritual abuse from leading experts, academics and practitioners in the field.”
Other experts who will be presenting include Dr Michael Salter, a Scientia Fellow and associate professor of criminology at the University of New South Wales. His research focuses on organised forms of child sexual abuse. Dark Justice, an organisation who catch potential sex offenders who try to groom and meet up with children following sexual grooming will also be speaking. Neil Brick (RA survivor) and creator of the S.M.A.R.T (Stop Mind control And Ritual Abuse Today) newsletter and Dr Sarah Nelson, Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee, who has presented widely for decades on sexual abuse issues, will also be delivering talks.
This is the second conference to be organised jointly by Eighteen And Under and Izzy’s Promise. Keiran Watson, a manager with Izzy’s Promise is keen to increase awareness of RA. He said: “There’s a desperate need to increase awareness of RA to everyone in the survivor sector. Survivors who have experienced RA can have complex support needs as a result of the abuse and they can find this difficult to access.”
Eighteen and Under provides confidential support and information to any child or young person who has experienced any form of abuse or violence. In addition to offering support services, the charity is dedicated to the prevention of all forms of violence and abuse and offer academically backed Violence Is Preventable (VIP) resources.
Izzy’s Promise has over 10 years of experience delivering ritual abuse support training. It provides confidential, practical and emotional support to RA survivors as well as conducting research into causes and prevention of ritual and organised abuse. Additionally, the charity provides expert training and consultancy services to organisations that need to deliver complex RA support.
Organised Abuse can involve multiple adults who plan and sexually abuse one or more children and it includes trafficking, child abuse, sexual exploitation and paedophilia rings. Ritual abuse can be defined as organised sexual, physical and psychological abuse, which can be systematic and sustained over a long period of time using rituals with or without a belief system.
On 6 February, the world celebrated International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which aims to raise awareness and to eradicate the practice. Anti-FGM activists and organisations are calling FGM a crime against women and girls. Several countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) have made FGM illegal and it is considered a form of child abuse. Anyone who performs FGM in the UK can face imprisonment for up to 14 years. Despite objections by the United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations (UN) among others, FGM is still a common practice and prevalent in some parts of the world, including Africa and Southeast Asia. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in 2020 alone, 4.1 million girls around the world are at risk of undergoing FGM.
What is FGM?
According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed. FGM is usually performed on young girls before they reach puberty, between infancy and the age of 15….
FGM vs FGC in ASEAN
FGM is a common practice in Southeast Asia and is usually referred to as female genital cutting or circumcision (FGC) as the word ‘mutilation’ in FGM is considered demeaning. In some parts of Southeast Asia FGC has been normalised, and the ritual is seen as a tradition that has been around for generations. Female circumcision in ASEAN is commonly practised by the Muslim community in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Southern Thailand as it is considered a religious obligation.
In 2009, a fatwa – which is a legal pronouncement in Islam, allowed the practice and made female circumcision mandatory except in cases where it is considered harmful to the girl in Malaysia. The Ministry of Health there also released a standardised guideline on the proper procedure of female circumcision, making sure that the operation is safe….
No health benefits
The WHO has stated that FGM carries no health benefits and is harmful to females. Immediate complications can include severe pain, excessive bleeding, genital tissue swelling, urinary problems, infections and even death. FGM also comes with long term effects such as menstrual problems, sexual problems, increased risk of childbirth complications and psychological problems.
According to media reports, the practice of FGM has decreased in recent years as the UN strives for a total elimination of FGM by 2030, following the spirit of Sustainable Development Goal 5.