An independent investigation has revealed that an estimated 1,400 children had been sexually abused in the UK town of Rotherham in a period stretching for 16 years.
The troubling findings have also placed the blame squarely on local officials and authorities for their failure to stop the abuse.
Head of the local town council Roger Stone stepped down from his post hours after the findings were announced, saying he would “take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly.”
The report, written by Professor Jay Alexis, detailed how children as young as 11 years old were repeatedly drugged, gang-raped, and trafficked off to clients from other cities since 1997 up to 2013.
Some would be threatened either with guns or being doused with petrol and set on fire, the report stated.
Others were forced to watch violent rapes and threatened that they would be next if they didn’t cooperate.
The professor also noted that the estimates are conservative. “No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years,” She said.
She also denounced the collective failures of the authorities, saying that they virtually allowed the perpetrators to act with impunity.
According to her, the police did not consider child abuse to be their top priority.
Also, they, along with child protection officers, either negligently or deliberately ignored the reports of child abuse because they were afraid of being tagged as racists if they identified the ethnicity of the perpetrators, she said.
The report noted that the children described their assailants as Asians, mostly Pakistanis.
In 2010, five Rotherham residents of Pakistani origin were convicted for exploiting and trafficking teenage girls for sex.
The inquiry has highlighted the alarming increase of child exploitation incidents in recent years, with trafficking gangs believed to be operating in other UK cities such as Derby, Oxford, and Rochdale.