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Teenage girls are traded for food': More shocking details emerge of culture of 'sexual abuse of children' on British overseas territory of St Helena|
* Charity found puberty was regarded as a 'marker' for 'girls' availability'
* Revealed that 'fairly brutal sexual conduct' has become 'reasonably normal'
* They uncovered a 'casual form of prostitution' in the overseas territory (Is Brutal the fair in UKStan?)
* Women suffered 'downing', where they were raped on the way to school (you mean scholgirls right? )
* Salvation Army said domestic violence on the island is 'endemic'
‘Fairly brutal sexual conduct’ has become ‘reasonably normal in St Helenian life’, a startling charity report has claimed.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation found puberty was widely regarded as a marker for young ‘girls’ availability’, rather than the age of consent on the British-owned island.
The Mail revealed yesterday how a shocking report which was never made public by the British government found St Helena was rife with child sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual exploitation.
Now, we can reveal further details from the startling report into child sexual abuse on the British overseas territory, which is home to 3,800 people.
The charity said the least charitable interpretation of the situation would be that ‘the society is generically tolerant of sexual assault, except of the most gross kind, and that the parameters of what was acceptable had been shifted’. They uncovered a ‘casual form of prostitution’, with women and teenage girls traded in return for food and consumer goods.
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army and the Human Rights Office told them that ‘domestic violence was endemic’ on the island. Many older women had suffered a practice known as ‘downing’ in their childhood, when they were raped on the way to school.
As a result of their own experiences, some did not recognise that grooming and abuse of their own children was a crime, but instead potentially ‘flattering’, if it was non-violent. Commissioned by DFID, two experts at the charity interviewed more than 50 St Helena residents including police officers, diplomats, school children, social workers and hospital staff.
They also investigated Ascension Island, home to a Royal Air Force station and 900 residents, a two-hour boat ride from St Helena. The report found evidence of the ‘grooming of children for sex’, particularly on Ascension Island’s bars, where alcohol was used as a ‘disabling narcotic’.
It found young, male workers from the US air base preyed on young girls, saying: ‘The disinhibiting effects of alcohol, and being away from home, community and parental scrutiny meant that some of them considered local girls ‘fair game.’
The charity made 28 recommendations, including the removal of trial by jury for sexual offences on St Helena, claiming locals ‘appeared ‘extremely reluctant to convict alleged perpetrators of sexual abuses unless the perpetrator himself is hated by the community’ and that victims were often viewed as ‘slags’.
It also called for urgent improvements to residential facilities for children and adults with disabilities to ‘avoid a public scandal’.
Charity workers were shown a ‘home made padded cell’ for children who became upset or ‘difficult’, which had only just been taken out of use, at the insistence of a new social services manager.
The buildings where children with physical and learning difficulties were housed were ‘terribly run down and extremely depressing’, while staff were forced to use their own wages to buy enough food for residents.
One unit was used as a ‘dumping ground of sorts’, where residents included a distressed sixteen-year-old being bottle-fed and a woman in her sixties ‘in the final stages of multiple sclerosis’.
A source who used to live on the island said: ‘What I saw happening on the island is absolutely appalling. ‘It reminds me very much of what happened on Pitcairn.’
‘Sexual abuse became part and parcel of island culture. There was a sense that ‘we know we have a problem but why don’t the expats go home and leave us to our island ways’.