Ebury Press 2013
What do they find attractive about me? An underage girl who just lies there sobbing, looking up at them… as they come to me one by one.
This is the shocking true story of how a young girl from Rochdale came to be Girl A – the key witness in the trial of Britain’s most notorious child sex ring.
Girl A was just fourteen when she was groomed by a group of Asian men. After being lured into their circle with gifts, she was plied with alcohol and systematically abused. She was just one of up to fifty girls to be ‘passed around’ by the gang. The girls were all under sixteen and forced to have sex with as many as twenty men in one night.
When details emerged a nation was outraged and asked how these sickening events came to pass. And now the girl at the very centre of the storm reveals the heartbreaking truth.
Earlier this year the BBC showed a television dramatization called Three Girls, based on the true stories of victims of grooming and abuse in Rochdale. Those living in England will recall the shock surrounding this case when it became public knowledge in 2012. Girl A, was the key witness in this case and this book is her story, told with Nigel Bunyan.
Not an easy read by any account and shocking in detailing the ease with which these girls were groomed and how the perpetuators, the gangs evaded the law and recrimination, despite significant intelligence. Girl A tells her story with a degree of pragmatism, reflecting on her difficult teenage years and chaotic lifestyle, she recognises her parents were struggling to manage her behaviour and comments in the majority without blame. As was reported at the time, the Police and Social Services were felt not to have taken adequate action and this is reflected in the book.
As a victim of grooming, emotional and sexual abuse the degree of control exerted on Girl A made it difficult for her to disclose what was happening to her, she feared for her life and tragically this went unrecognised and her behaviour dismissed as lifestyle choices. Reading the book I certainly didn’t feel I had any answers and while clearly there were numerous missed opportunities, to either help Girl A or prevent further abuse, I do think this type of crime, known now as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is incredibly complex and problematic to achieve justice.
The story is desperately sad of a vulnerable child, difficult family circumstances and predatory adults. There have been other large scale CSE cases since Rochdale in the news since 2012 and the shock of the public remains. My final thoughts remind me to listen to my children and to always remember despite appearances of maturity and increased independence, at fourteen and fifteen teenagers are very much still children and need to be treated as such.
It seems inappropriate to either rate or recommend this book, but for those interested in this case or similar it is definitely worth reading.