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Critical Reflections on Religion and Child Sexual Exploitation

  1. Critical Reflections on Religion and Child Sexual Exploitation Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal Not to be reproduced without permission from the author
  2. • Religious groups as part of community awareness raising. • ‘Asian/Muslim’ perpetrators and ‘Asian/Muslim’ victims. • Emergence of a range of ‘religious’ or ‘faith-based’ responses to CSE. • The slide from Multiculturalism to Multifaithism – religion as the primary signifier of difference. • Transfer the learning - historical debates about religious leaders as gatekeepers / the policing of sex and sexuality. Background
  3. • Two roundtable events - November 2014 / February 2015 • Same twenty participants at both sessions • Participants – from the voluntary sector providing services for children, young people and women • A safe space to: • Share experiences and thoughts re: possibilities or limitations of engaging religious organisations • Problem solve • Develop framework for good practice Aim and Method
  4. • Extending social responsibility for tackling CSE • They are part of the landscape of local areas • They have authority? • Access to potential perpetrators • Challenge the abusive practices being sanctioned within those communities Why did they engage?
  5. • Strong objection to the slide from multiculturalism to multifaithism – to the privileging of religious identity and the strengthening of religious leaders • Religious leaders as power brokers – not passive, not representative • Religion does more harm than good – it’s simply not useful to engage religion on issues to do with sex/sexuality • ‘Triaging’ – what is the best way to utilise limited resources? Why did they steer clear?
  6. • Role of community and religious ‘leaders’ in tracing women • Religious and cultural arguments used as justifications for abuse • Religious group responses as ‘tokenistic’ • Growth of academies, especially those of a religious ethos, restrict or reduce spaces for preventative work Alignment of concerns
  7. • Religion or culture should not override children’s rights • Children’s rights and human rights need to be at the forefront of responses • Women’s groups and children’s charities need to be at the forefront of partnerships and responses • Religious groups have diverse ‘interests’ • An ethical evaluation required that distinguishes between a range of religious interventions Looking Forward
  8. Analysing the values base ? Child centred Victim centred Pre-occupied with honour/shame of the ‘community’ or family Empowering Safeguarding Focus on punitive actions Accountability Impunity – excusing the behaviour of perpetrators Participatory Being saved by guardians of the faith or community Rights based frameworks: Children have rights Women have rights Human rights framework Every Child Matters framework Traditional action – gains legitimacy from traditional authority, reliant on the reproduction of memories, tradition and ritual. Framework of ‘displaced agency’ Egalitarian – based on principles of equality Discriminatory – in practice and/or ideological frame that is premised on inequality Authoritarian / absolutist worldview Non-judgemental Moralistic / judgemental
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