Faith Action – advice and resources
Inter Faith Network – advice and guidance from faith groups
What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?
FGM is when a female’s genitals are deliberately altered or removed for non-medical reasons. It’s also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘cutting’, but has many other names. FGM is a form of child abuse. It’s dangerous and a criminal offence in the UK. FGM can happen at different times in a girl or woman’s life, including:
when a baby is new-born
during childhood or as a teenager
just before marriage
Coercive and controlling behaviour
Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour (Women’s Aid).
How do you know if this is happening?
Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:
- Isolation from friends and family
- Deprivation of basic needs, such as food
- Monitoring someone’s time
- Monitoring someone via online communication tools or spyware
- Taking control over aspects of everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what they can wear and when they can sleep
- Depriving access to support services, such as medical services
- Repeatedly putting down a person
- Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising behaviour
- Controlling your finances
- Making threats or intimidation
County lines and exploitation
The 2018 Home Office Serious Crime Strategy states the NPCC definition of a County Line is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas [within the UK], using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move [and store] the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.
A common feature in county lines drug supply is the exploitation of young and vulnerable people. The dealers will frequently target children and adults – often with mental health or addiction problems – to act as drug runners or move cash so they can stay under the radar of law enforcement.
In some cases the abusers will take over a local property, normally belonging to a vulnerable person, and use it to operate their criminal activity from. This is known as cuckooing.
People exploited in this way will quite often be exposed to physical, mental and sexual abuse, and in some instances will be trafficked to areas a long way from home as part of the network’s drug dealing business.
As we have seen in child sexual exploitation, children often don’t see themselves as victims or realise they have been groomed to get involved in criminality. So it’s important that we all play our part to understand county lines and speak out if we have concerns (Cited from NCA website).
Some signs to look out for include:
- An increase in visitors and cars to a house or flat
- New faces appearing at the house or flat
- New and regularly changing residents (e.g different accents compared to local accent
- Change in resident’s mood and/or demeanour (e.g. secretive/ withdrawn/ aggressive/ emotional)
- Substance misuse and/or drug paraphernalia
- Changes in the way young people you might know dress
- Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable new things (e.g clothes, jewellery, cars etc)
- Residents or young people you know going missing, maybe for long periods of time
- Young people seen in different cars/taxis driven by unknown adults
- Young people seeming unfamiliar with your community or where they are
- Truancy, exclusion, disengagement from school
- An increase in anti-social behaviour in the community
- Unexplained injuries
Child Sexual Exploitation
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. When a child or young person is exploited they’re given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Children and young people are often tricked into believing they’re in a loving and consensual relationship. This is called grooming. They may trust their abuser and not understand that they’re being abused.
Children and young people can be trafficked into or within the UK to be sexually exploited. They’re moved around the country and abused by being forced to take part in sexual activities, often with more than one person. Young people in gangs can also be sexually exploited.
Sometimes abusers use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child or young person, making them feel as if they’ve no choice. They may lend them large sums of money they know can’t be repaid or use financial abuse to control them.
Anybody can be a perpetrator of CSE, no matter their age, gender or race. The relationship could be framed as friendship, someone to look up to or romantic. Children and young people who are exploited may also be used to ‘find’ or coerce others to join groups.
Types of child sexual exploitation
CSE can happen in person or online. An abuser will gain a child’s trust or control them through violence or blackmail before moving onto sexually abusing them. This can happen in a short period of time.
When a child is sexually exploited online they might be persuaded or forced to:
- send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
- film or stream sexual activities
- have sexual conversations.
Once an abuser has images, video or copies of conversations, they might use threats and blackmail to force a young person to take part in other sexual activity. They may also share the images and videos with others or circulate them online.
Gangs use sexual exploitation:
- to exert power and control
- for initiation
- to use sexual violence as a weapon.
Children or young people might be invited to parties or gatherings with others their own age or adults and given drugs and alcohol. They may be assaulted and sexually abused by one person or multiple perpetrators. The sexual assaults and abuse can be violent, humiliating and degrading.