UK

Bradford care home girl ‘married abuser at 15’

Stock image of girl in a park
Image caption The woman claims she has been let down by authorities

A woman says she married her abuser after becoming pregnant at 15 while she was in care.

Despite concerns being raised, documents show a social worker recommended she be allowed to live with the older man after the pair were wed in an Islamic ceremony.

The woman said she was abused by numerous Asian men while living in a children’s home in Bradford.

Bradford Council said it was in contact with police about the allegations.

In an unrelated case earlier this year, nine men were jailed for raping and abusing two teenage girls living in a children’s home in Bradford from 2008.

The woman said she was abused years before after being taken into the care of the city’s social services aged 13.

She said it was then the grooming started, with men picking her and other girls up from the children’s home and plying them with alcohol before sexually abusing them.

Image caption The woman’s care records flagged up concerns about her relationship with the older man

Her care records, which have been seen by the BBC, reveal how her social worker had “real concerns about the company she is keeping”.

They stated: “She is going off with Asian lads much older than her who have made attempts to rape/assault her. Reported to police but no further action has been taken.”

When she was 14, she started a relationship with an older man, with her records detailing that her social worker had serious concerns about him.

One entry stated: “Whatever he wants she seems to do which is a cause for concern and that she has “no concept of the risks she is putting herself at” with him.

‘Lost childhood’

But despite this, the social worker recommended she should be allowed to live with the man and his family. The teenager went on to marry him under Islamic law after becoming pregnant.

Looking back, the woman said she had been let down by authorities.

“I just think it’s appalling,” she said.

“Back then I thought it was great, but I’d not developed into an adult to make adult decisions. I was still a child.

“Half of my life I don’t even recognise the person. I could have achieved so much.

“It’s hard to think I’ve lost my childhood.”

Gladys Rhodes White, Bradford Council’s interim strategic director of children’s services, said the woman “must have felt very let down that her social worker wasn’t able to appreciate and understand the nature of the relationship”.

She added: “I just found it really sad and shocking that understanding and awareness was not apparent at that time.”

The council said the alleged abuse happened when awareness of how to tackle child sexual exploitation was not as developed as it is now.

It added: “We believe the way we work is much more impactful and whilst we cannot eradicate all of the risks that remain around CSE we are highly vigilant and committed to doing all we can to prevent it.”

West Yorkshire Police said it took all reports of sexual offences seriously, adding it “has specially trained officers to investigate these matters sensitively and thoroughly, so victims can be protected from further harm and action can be taken against perpetrators”.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

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