Child abuse survivor praises BBC’s Rochdale grooming drama Three Girls

By Adele Forrest | 18/05/2017

Child abuse survivor praises BBC’s Rochdale grooming drama Three Girls
Picture Shows: Holly (Molly Windsor), Ruby (Liv Hill), Sara Rowbotham (Maxine Peake), Amber (Ria Zmitrowicz). Credit: BBC/Sophie Mutevelian

A ROTHERHAM child abuse survivor has praised the BBC’s drama series Three Girls which shines a spotlight on the Rochdale grooming scandal.

The three-part series, which concludes tonight, tells the real-life story of a sexual health worker’s battle with the police and authorities to bring gangs of Asian men, who were exploiting young white girls in the North West town, to justice.

Maxine Peake plays determined sexual health worker Sara Rowbotham, who’s damning evidence helped convict nine Rochdale men of multiple child abuse offences in 2012 — nearly a decade after she had first presented it to the authorities.

The true stories of three abused Rochdale schoolgirls are retold and shows how one schoolgirl, Holly, was initially ignored by police when she told them she had been raped by an older Asian man.

This is a similar situation the Rotherham survivor, who cannot be named, experienced in 2003.

But after putting her trust back in South Yorkshire Police in 2013 as part of Operation Clover she has now seen nine of her abusers jailed — with the latest conviction secured last Friday.

The survivor, now aged 28, said the TV drama had captured her and her family’s experience well.

“It’s spot on,” she said.

“They have done it well, it’s shocking and harrowing without going too far where people can’t even tune in.”

The woman said despite the fact the abuse happened in another town and occurred five years later, there were many similarities.

She added: “It’s so similar in terms of how they were groomed and the tactics used. For a long time victims were perceived as kids being unruly or a bit naughty and just falling in with the wrong crowd.”

But for her parents it had been a difficult watch and “angered” her dad, who is still campaigning to hold to account the professionals who let his daughter and family down.

“It really upset my mum because it does portray reality, but I think it makes them more determined because people deserve answers and justice,” she said.

Det Chief Insp Martin Tate, who led South Yorkshire Police’s Operation Clover, said he had found the show difficult to watch.

In a tweet the detective said: “#threegirls. Parallels with #Rotherham #CSE #Clover. Extremely difficult viewing. Victims will be heard and cops do care. Report abuse.”

Watch Three Girls tonight on BBC One or catch up on BBC iPlayer.

Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation should contact the police on 101 or the new national helpline Say Something on 116 000. 

Or call The Rotherham Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01709 336 080. In an emergency always call 999.

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