A new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) set up for adults who experienced sexual abuse as children has been criticised by members of the public over a survey it published last month.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, whose Chair and founder is Rotherham MP Sarah Champion was launched to explore and identify the support and justice needs of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
As part of this effort the parliamentary group put together a survey to find out about survivor’s experiences of being abused as children. The survey includes around 14 questions grouped into five categories: disclosure, disclosure and support, reporting, the criminal justice process and demographics.
The first question, which asks for information on which country or region the individual experienced abuse, has to be answered before you can continue on to the next question. Respondents can then choose which of the remaining 13 questions, or segments, they’d like to answer.
The survey was posted on the MP’s Facebook page in December, and social media users were quick to point out its flaws. Several posters said that the survey was filled with leading questions, while others commented on the language used within the survey.
A Facebook user who commented on the post was surprised that the survey did not offer any options for survivors to explain that they were not aware that what was happening to them at the time was abuse. Another member of the public was concerned about the levels of awareness at the APPG on transgender issues, which the survey touches upon in its questions. Other posters were sceptical of the APPG’s intentions, viewing its survey as an exercise in gathering information to limit the government’s responsibilities for the child sexual abuse scandals that have emerged within state-run schools, care homes and sports clubs, and also questioning whether the APPG consulted with survivors before producing the survey.
Sarah Champion first came to the media’s attention when she criticised certain parts of the Muslim community in Britain after a large-scale grooming operation made up of Pakistani men abusing caucasian girls was exposed in her constituency. In July last year Champion had to increase her security detail after receiving several death threats, and faced being expelled from the Labour party for her remarks.
The APPG was launched on 13th November, 2018, and has an almost exclusively female officer base: Lilian Greenwood, Dr Lisa Cameron, Lucy Allan, Mrs Pauline Latham, Baroness Hollins, Baroness Uddin and Baroness Burt of Solihull. Jim Shannon is the only male officer at the APPG. The Secretariat for the Group is The Survivors Trust and is not listed on the Parliamentary Register though it should be, according to APPG Rules.
In a statement on her website, Champion offers a summary of the first meeting held by the APPG and outlines the Group’s plans for the coming year and beyond:
“The APPG will focus its initial efforts on consulting with victims, survivors and support services to issue a response to the Government’s Victims Strategy consultation, set to launch in early 2019. The APPG will host evidence sessions in Parliament, obtain the views of victims and survivors directly. The APPG will aim to highlight the need for specialist support services and to improve access to justice for adult survivors.”
Anyone who wishes to take part in the survey can do so here. Those who would just like to look at the questions can see them below.