Vulnerable children as young as 10 in Northern Ireland are being sexually exploited in the same way as the girls in the notorious Rochdale grooming case, a leading charity has said.
Last week nine men who ran a child sexual exploitation ring in the Lancashire town were jailed for plying youngsters as young as 13 with drink and drugs, so they could “pass them around” for sex.
Judge Gerald Clifton said the men treated the girls “as though they were worthless and beyond respect”.
Jacqui Montgomery-Devlin, manager of Barnardo’s Safe Choices, told the Belfast Telegraph
sexual exploitation is happening in “every town and city across Northern Ireland”.
She explained most of the girls she deals with are aged
between 12 and 16 - with the youngest so far being just 10 years old.
“Party houses are dominant scenes for sexually exploited girls,” Ms Montgomery-Devlin said.
“They are invited to houses, given drugs and alcohol, and then return home or to care homes intoxicated or under the influence of substances.
“Sometimes they ring and don’t know where they are. They often ask for the morning after pill.”
Ms Montgomery-Devlin said “fear is a huge factor” for the children being exploited.
She added: “One girl said: ‘If I don’t go back they will only rape me anyway, so I might as well go’.
“They are threatened with being killed. Whether the men would
go through with this is irrelevant. The young person believes it.”
Late last year research from Barnardo’s revealed two-thirds of girls in care homes here are at risk of being sexually exploited.