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Sex victim protection assurances not adequate

Sex victim protection assurances not adequate

The Taranaki Daily News has reported that a Taranaki women put into the care of a convicted sex offender by Child Youth and Family was raped and contracted HIV. At 16, the woman, whose real name has not been released, was taken from her family and placed with an uncle who had spent six years in prison for taking part in a gang rape and who subsequently sexually abused her.

The Ministry of Social Development said it was a gap in CYF policy that had let the woman down.

Alan Bell, Director of ECPAT Child ALERT says” Even though this occurred some years ago in 2001 it seems incredible that such a thing could happen. It is an absolute travesty that a government agency could actually place a 16 year old girl for safekeeping with a convicted sex offender.”

"In 2001 it wasn't mandatory for CYF staff to do criminal checks around family placement decisions made at youth justice Family Group Conferences.'' according to Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive David Shanks. "I can assure the public that our assessment process has been strengthened in more recent years, with staff expected to do police checks if there were any concerns around family/whanau placements,'' Mr Shanks said.

Bell says” The assurances leave room for further doubt. Police checks are the minimal requirement. They are essential but do not go far enough to ensure that vulnerable children are properly protected. Placing children in care is an awesome responsibility and the vetting of those with whom the wellbeing of the children is being entrusted must ensure that they will be protected rather than face further risk. The New Zealand record of child abuse is dismal even in what might be considered normal circumstances. When abuse occurs after children at risk have been taken into care by a government agency the public are justified in requiring the highest standard of safeguarding them from that point on.”

The woman said a friend of her uncle who has since died from Aids also abused her and she and her first born son are HIV positive. The woman was removed from her uncle's care after reporting the abuse.

ECPAT Child ALERT is a registered charitable trust working to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.


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