Child sex victims denied payouts if they ‘consented’, say charities
CHILD victims of sexual abuse are being denied compensation because a government agency insists they “consented”, a group of charities has said.
Charities including Barnardo’s, Victim Support and Rape Crisis say that children as young as 12 are being denied compensation because of claims that they went along with their abuse.
Children cannot consent to sexual activity under the law, unless they are over 13 and the defendant reasonably believed they were over 16.
But the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which sets payouts for sexual abuse, uses different criteria. In evidence submitted to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse last year, Barnardo’s said that the authority had responded to a claim from one child by saying that “it considers consent as a question of fact … a victim can consent in fact even though in law they may be deemed not to have consented”. The charities say children are made to feel they are to blame for the abuse.
Victim Support cited the case of a 12-year-old girl who was plied with alcohol and assaulted by a 21-year-old man, but denied compensation because she had gone off with him “voluntarily”.
The charities have written to David Lidington, the Justice Secretary, demanding the guidelines are changed.
The Ministry of Justice was unable to explain last night why the guidelines differed to the law.