A massive inquiry has just launched in the United Kingdom into historic cases of children being sent to other countries where they faced a life of “torture, rape, and slavery” at the hands of pedophile and child sex trafficking rings.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse opened by investigating as far back as the decades following the second world war looking at schemes that were set up to give vulnerable children a “new life”.
Thousands of children were sent to other counties in the Commonwealth, mainly Canada and Australia, with many being lost in the system and ending up child sex slavery.
One of the witnesses, David Hill, was sent to Australia as a child and broke down ads he described the “endemic” sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a pedophile ring;
“I hope this inquiry can promote an understanding of the long-term consequences and suffering of those who were sexually abused.”
“Many never recover and are permanently afflicted with guilt, shame, diminished self-confidence, low self-esteem, fear, and trauma.”
Yahoo reports: The British Empire sent some 150,000 children abroad over 350 years, according to a 1998 parliamentary study, although the probe started Monday by looking at abuse of the practice after World War II.
It was justified as a means of slashing the costs of caring for lone children and providing disadvantaged young people with a fresh start while meeting labor shortages in the Commonwealth and populating colonial-era lands with white British settlers.
Between 1945 and 1970, youngsters were sent mainly to Australia, but also Canada, New Zealand and what is now Zimbabwe — often without the consent of their families.
But the promise of a good upbringing and an exciting new life in the sun was often, in reality, a world of forced labor, brutal treatment and sexual assault in remote institutions run by churches and charities.
“They sent us to a place that was a living hell,” victim Clifford Walsh told the BBC.
Oliver Cosgrove was sent to Australia in 1941, one of an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 children shipped there from 1922 to 1967.
“Those who were abused tried in vain to tell others, who they hoped and believed might assist them. But they didn’t,” his representative told the inquiry.
“This was a systematic and institutional problem.”
– ‘Unacceptable depravity’ –
Aswini Weereratne, of the Child Migrants Trust which supports victims, said there was good evidence that Britain knew of the poor standards of care in Australian institutions but failed to respond.
“Some of what was done there was of quite unacceptable depravity. Terms like sexual abuse are too weak to convey it,” she said.
“This was not about truly voluntary migration, but forced or coerced deportation.”
Some children were said to have suffered “torture, rape, and slavery,” she added.
Professor Stephen Constantine told the hearings that royal visits to such institutions legitimized them for people who saw the photographs, believing if it was good enough for the royal family, “it is good enough for us”.
The hearings are being held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in London. The opening phase dealing with Australia is expected to last 10 days.
The inquiry was established following the death of TV star Jimmy Savile in 2011, when it emerged he had been one of Britain’s worst serial pedophiles, carrying out abuse unchecked in a range of public institutions.
The inquiry will look at historic abuse in England and Wales, including in schools, hospitals, children’s homes, local authorities, religious organizations, the BBC, the armed forces, and charities.
It will also examine allegations involving famous people in politics and the media.
The inquiry got off to a rocky start, with the first three chairs stepping down.