Tuesday the 13th of April

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Praise for expose of sex attacks on young girls by Asian gangs

A member of the Bishops’ Domestic Abuse Working Group has applauded the BBC for its “difficult, harrowing but extremely important” drama about the Rochdale abuse scandal.

Nikki Dhillon-Keane, who also runs Signs of Hope Counselling Service, said Three Girls was “an important step forward” and was “vital” to help victims come forward about any abuse they may suffered and keep potential targets safe.

The three-part series, which came to an end on Thursday 18th May, brought to light the true story of widespread grooming and sexual assault of girls and young women in the Rochdale area by a gang of Asian men.

“This was a difficult and harrowing programme, but an extremely important one,” Ms Dhillon-Keane told The Universe. “I think it has raised awareness of the importance of understanding the signs of sexual grooming; which is absolutely vital to keep young people safe.”

As the recreated court case drew to a close, viewers watched Holly, Amber and Ruby embark on the challenge of rebuilding their lives as police and social services faced severe criticism for the way events were handled.

“The programme also highlighted some dreadful failings in the legal and social care systems, and also how ignorance of how abuse really affects people can lead to damaging attitudes like victim blaming,” continued Ms Dhillon-Keane, who is currently working with Caritas Westminster in developing multi-faith domestic abuse support Safe in Faith.

“If we are to safeguard our young people more effectively, we all need to have much more awareness about the realities of abuse, how it affects people and what the signs are,” she added.

“This programme was an important step forward in opening up conversations about this difficult subject, which is absolutely vital if we are to keep young people safe from this kind of abuse.”

Actress Maxine Peake starred in the series as Sara Rowbotham, the sexual health aid worker who first uncovered the patterns of severe abuse in the area, but struggled to bring it to the attention of authorities.

She was made redundant two years after the conviction of nine men in 2012.

Many viewers paid tribute to the whistle-blower after learning about her tireless work for the first time, with some even calling for an OBE.

Twitter user Debbie Davies appealed to the broadcaster: ‘@BBC well done to you for showing #threegirls. Brilliant but hard viewing. It needed to be done. Sara Rowbothom deserves an OBE.’

If you have been affected by abuse in childhood visit: www.napac.org.uk

If you are concerned about a child visit: www.nspcc.org.uk

Picture: Amber (Ria Zmitrowicz), Holly (Molly Windsor), Ruby (Liv Hill). Image Credit: BBC/Parisa Taghizadeh.