Anger, Rethink, Anger.

I look at the screen and see the words, “Patient in labour”, it's 4 a.m. in the morning and I huff at the thought of going out to another 'Maternataxi'.

My crewmate groans and tells me that while the patient lives in our patch the maternity department that she is going to is way outside our area to a hospital that we don't like much.

'She doesn't speak English', says my crewmate, 'oh, and she's fifteen'.

'No wonder her maternity department is in Essex', I joke.

We get there and her parents meet us at the door, they are babbling away in their native tongue and they basically push us, and the patient, into the ambulance. Her mother comes with her – all the time shouting the only word in English that they seem to know – “Quick!”

'Quick! Quick! Quick!' they shout at us, they aren't interested in us doing anything, you know, medical, so I grit my teeth and we drive them to the hospital.

I'm fuming. I'm sure that it doesn't help that this is the last of our very busy nightshifts, that it's silly o'clock in the morning, that our professionalism is being ignored for our ability to drive a free taxi and that we are being forced to go out of our area when all we really want to do is local jobs so that we can get off shift on time.

At some point my crewmate leans through the dividing door of the ambulance and lets me know that this is the third baby our patient is having and that the father of the baby is her cousin.

Again I mutter something about Essex*

We drop her off at the hospital, I neither expect or receive a 'thank you'. The midwives at this hospital were lovely and we returned to the ambulance to try and race back to our own area.

It was only after I'd had seven hours sleep at the end of my shift that I start to wonder about this call.

I wonder about our patient getting pregnant for the first time when she is twelve. I wonder about her cousin, I wonder how old he is, and how old he was when he first started what can only be described as child abuse. I wonder about the isolation that our patient would feel in being unable to speak the native language of the country in which she lives. I wonder about why the social services allow this child to remain in a situation where she has seemingly become a baby factory.

The pregnancy is all above board, the maternity notes are genuine, the history is good and action has probably been taken. But somehow the father of the child isn't in prison, isn't on the sex offenders register. Is it because he is a child as well?

I think about the fate of our patient, this child. I've heard things about Romanian gypsy families, that they marry their child while they are still children. Some private ceremony, unsanctioned by the state or by law, yet occurs without much fuss because to do otherwise might lead to accusations of racism**.

So now I'm angry again – I'm angry that a fifteen year old girl has been raped at least three times presumably with her family's consent. I'm angry because it would seem that nothing is being done about it and I'm angry that this isn't an isolated incident.

I think that this delayed anger is the more positive sort.

*I can make these jokes, I spent my childhood growing up in Essex. The fecundity of the women of Essex is the reason why I was a virgin until I left the area.

**Yes, I know it's the Daily Hate Mail, but it seems like reasonably factual reporting.

24 thoughts on “Anger, Rethink, Anger.”

  1. Not wishing to defend their actions in anyway, but in some countries the age of consent is 12 (one even 9).Even though we have our rules, is it right to expect someone who has been brought up in a different culture, possibly forcibly made to leave their country and sought sanctury in ours, to know all our rules and cultures?

  2. Sorry to sound like an idiot, But in my opinion if you choose to live in the uk and you choose to use the services that are provided by Mr and Mrs Tax payer then your cultures own rules do not apply.That is not to say that we in Great Britian should not respect those from other cultures, But if we have to abide by certain rules in a country like Dubai then the same should apply here.

    If the Age of consent is 16 here in the UK, then thats the Age of consent no different because they might be of another religion or creed or culture.

    If we cannot drink in Dubai or women cannot wear low cut tops then as I mentioned earlier people wishing to live here should abide by our culture, tradations and laws……. Although not at the loss of there own.

    It annoys me that once again TOM got messed about and had to drive outside of his normal area…..

    On top of that having had exprience of doing deliveries around parts of london for a Electronic goods retailer I cannot begin to tell you how annoying it is that people from other cultures, creeds, races, cannot be bothered to learn any Engilsh whilst they live here even though I think the Government should make anyone wishing to live here learn Engilsh to at least GCSE level…….

    I would also like to point out that our country is not the nearest neighbouring country of refuge, In fact its the furthest point in the EU and actually overseas….. People in great need could of course pop into Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Poland etc

  3. Tom, I've some concern about this situation too, but, you don't know it is rape? Could be coersion yes, could be a paedophile ring, could certainly be something dodgy, but could also be just young people getting married/being together at an earlier age than is legal here (there are I think numerous cases of native English girls falling pregnant under 16 too, not all rape!). Iagree social services should be involved, especially if this isn't even the first baby, and especially with the language thing.

    Does the maternity hospital have a duty in this? Do you have to report a concern?

    Also, it just occurred to me, when I was living abroad despite handling the language well under normal circumstances, when I needed a doctor urgently I forgot all trace of it and started babbling in English… could be the same thing, people not handling the labour thing calmly?

    Things to consider anyway. Keep your chin up, Tom, you are doing a vital service.

  4. It is, of course possible that she's lying about her age; refugees sometimes take a few years off the kids' real age so that they can stay longer in school to make up for what education they didn't get at home. What shocks me is that some hospital or other must have been in contact with this girl when she had the other two kids. Why wasn't action taken after the first? Unless this is a language problem, maybe she had two pregnancies, but miscarried? Still, some traditions are barbaric, even if they are common in another culture. It doesn't make them ok, just because they are “cultural”.

  5. This is what we get for having a multi-cultural society thrust upon us. We are having to tolerate actions that would have the native British jailed. The government are powerless because in their own country this is commonplace and so the families don't understand why we should object.

  6. This girl (for girl she is) is being used in a way which our society (a society made up of people from many different cultures and countries) deems to be legally and morally wrong. To say that such practices are normal in other places is irrelevent. Female circumcision and other forms of mutilation may be normal in other places but that does not make them acceptable. We ignore these things at our peril and at the peril of those who suffer from such practices in a country where they should be safe and protected. Just look at the case of Victoria Climbie.Other peoples cultures should be respected but not to the excusion of the fundimental rules we are all expected to live by in their chosen host country. Ignoring them lets this girl down and hands yet another victory to those of the far right who wish to make polictical capital from this girls misery.

    At least the parents have picked up the idea of using the ambulance service as a taxi… they are going in the right direction to fall in with the great british public in some ways.

  7. Which is exactly what I was aiming for – for once I was choosing my words carefully.While I don't believe that the UK has a 'statutory rape' charge, I believe that being under the age of consent means that you can't give consent, and therefore it is rape.

    People with knowledge of UK law, please feel free to correct me.

  8. At least the parents have picked up the idea of using the ambulance service as a taxi… they are going in the right direction to fall in with the great british public in some ways.Snigger…

    I also agree with your larger piont (and the points of other commentors) that while the vast number of cultural differences are assimilated as part of UK culture, there are certain things that we should not tolerate – forced marriage, 'honour' killing and animal cruelty are just some of these things.

  9. Not sure about England, but up here in Scotland inaction isn't an option, you are compelled by law to inform an appropriate person about your concerns.its quite likely that social services/Police may be unaware – who's to say that the other 2 weren't born outside of the UK

  10. It has nothing to do with speaking English or being native to anywhere. It's an appalling violation of human rights, what's being done to that poor girl, and thousands like her. It's a complete cop-out to pretend there's anything “cultural” about it when the cultures involved have brave and selfless people working their hearts out to stop these crimes.Which is what Tom just said, more succinctly.

  11. As I understand it, we do have such a thing as statutory rape when 'consensual' sex has taken place between an adult and a minor, on the basis that the minor has not got the capacity to give or withhold their informed consent.However I also understand that it is at the discretion of the officials involved in an individual case to determine whether it is applicable or not. It would almost definitely apply to a prepubescent child, but I have known of at least one case involving an under-16 teenager and her peer-group-but-older boyfriend where the statutory rape charge was considered not applicable. The case proceeded as “unlawful sexual intercourse”, and the young man in question avoided a prison sentence but was labelled a paedophile and had to sign the sex offenders' register.

    I could be out of date or lacking understanding on this one.

  12. Hey TomI believe your right in that assumption. Those under the age of consent cannot give it, and for the purposes of law it would be considered rape.

    I'm not sure, but I believe the punishment is life for rape, and 14 years for sexual assault.

  13. so what happens if a British girl of fifteen gives birth?Is the father always sought and prosecuted, especially if he's young too? (I'm genuinely asking, not making a point). Underage mums are hardly confined to the immigrant communities, sadly.

  14. Thats slightly jarsh – re the taxi. Having just completed NHS ante-natal classes, we were told, repeatedly, if we didn't have someone to drive us we were to use an ambulance. We should *not* use a taxi. As it was at a dedicated maternoty hospital, so has a lot of people “out of area” we were advised to call our local ambulance service and check whether they would take us out of area though.You will be pleased to know I converted alot of people to calling a mini-cab and not wasting an ambulance!

  15. Do we *know* she's a “poor girl”? When I were a lad, I met a few girls of twelve or thirteen who are keen and (in their minds at least) ready to be sexually active.So although it would be rape in the legal sense, it may have been entirely consensual and loving.

    I'd agree that it's probably not the best lifestyle choice on her part to be churning out babies at that age, when she could be getting educated and having a career out there… but some people really do just want to be housewives.

    So, yes, this *could* be horrendous child abuse, but it may also be that she's having exactly the life she dreampt of. Don't presume!

  16. One possibility is that the baby wasn't conceived in the UK, she didn't speak English which makes me suspect she hadn't lived here very long, or more worrying, that she is not allowed to go to school.

  17. The father would be asked about and determined; mostly there will be no police involvement especially in cases of statutory rape where the father is of the same age as the pregnant teenager.Any child who becomes pregnant should automatically be referred to social services because she herself becomes a 'child in need' by the very fact she is a mother under 16. We automatically refer to social services for all under 16 pregnancies and sometimes for 16-18 year olds dependent on circumstances (big difference between mature, well supported/married 18 year old and someone who was 16 last week and to all intents and purposes still 15 but for a few days). I would have serious questions about the safety and wellbeing of this 15 year old if she was on my caseload. It's not just about 'wanting to be a housewife'. Legally at 15 you are a child.

  18. We seem to have some sort of Nationality exam which I as a native born Brit. couldn't pass. I'm a republican to boot. Not particularly applicable here maybe but I think it would be far more sensible to give all immigrants a card with a 'things you can do and things you can't do' message in the appropriate language. This would criminalise the treatment (rape) of these children and leave no 'didn't know' excuse.I've always been somewhat bemussed by complaints of the hard done to British putting up with bad behaviour here when we have to behave ourselves abroad. I'm not aware of anywhere I couldn't emigrate to (There's plenty of places I wouldn't) and I seem to have spent my life listening to stories of the exclusiveness of Brit ex-pats. On a global basis if there is one group who stick together, don't learn the language, ignore dress codes when they can, and expect to be pandered to its the Brits. I even heard one woman recently bragging that she had bought a place in Spain and Spaniards were not allowed to buy in that development!

    There can only be one set of laws and they should be applied evenhandedly and transparently. There are obviously 'Bill of Rights' issues here and I'm confused about that. I'm not confused about the need to protect children, whoever they are.

  19. When I was 12 the life I dreamt of changed on an almost weekly basis. Recurrent things I wanted to do included having babies, being a housewife, being a nun, travelling around the world, running my own company, being stranded on a desert island, and living in a eco-friendly treehouse without anyone else around (not necessarily all at once). It was the life I dreamt of, but that doesn't mean I should have gone ahead and done any of it at the age of 12 and it would have been appalling if the adults around me had let me, worse still if they had facilitated it.Being a child means not having the insight, knowledge, resources or life experience to know what is best for you, and your parents, teachers, doctors and other adults are therefore called upon to help make those decisions for you. As you get older you are gradually considered competent to take partial or total responsibility for more and more choices, from ear-piercing to surgery to voting to marriage. For sex, in this country, it's 16.

    Paedophilia cases can be and are pursued even if the age gap is quite small and the adult has written and video evidence and a sworn and signed statement from the child to prove that the child initiated contact, initiated the relationship, suggested having sex, bought the condoms, chose the position and gleefully jumped into bed with “yes please!” written across their torso… The reason for this is that adults – all adults – should know that a child does not have the capacity to make such grown-up and permanent decisions, and the adult therefore has responsibility to protect the child from the child's own recklessness.

    An adult should refuse to have sex with a child who is pushing his/herself at them in much the same way as you would refuse to have sex with an adult who was very drunk and emotional after a row with their partner. They are able to make many decisions for themselves, but they are not fully competent to take all the factors into account and make a rational, grownup decision about it.

    Even if the girl is not being abused in the sense of it being against her wishes, and currently feels quite happy with the situation, having babies in her early teens is against her best interests and she is not being adequately protected by the adults around her. That's what makes her a “poor girl”.

    PS. I am not necessarily agreeing with the entirety of the standpoint I have just outlined, but it is the standpoint that the law takes.

  20. Thanks John for saving me from having to pipe up…My family are economic migrants among a large ex-pat 'community'. And you are spot on, and very big on hypocrisy – for example, I asked for signatures to a petition try to prevent my son's classmate from deportation, and despite having taken the time to translate all info into English, received the reply, more than once, that there are too many immigrants here! Many of my co-nationals seem to think it's still the 18th century and that our host country is some sort of colony. Needless to say, the same group hold no truck with immigrant communities in the UK sticking together, preferring the reassurance of the familiar in unfamiliar surroundings, “they” should integrate. I almost splurted my Pimms.

  21. She may well have been known to socal services, if she was within our HA she definitely would have been, not just for her but also for the baby's welfare. Interesting though that she was booked at a hospital out of area, I wonder if it was a ploy to avoid a social service department which she had already had contact with. If she had also changed G.P fairly recently there would not be available records. I would have loved to see her notes!

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