Yesterday we learned that the Department of Health is to launch an investigation as to why Jimmy Savile was put in charge of a task force overseeing Broadmoor Hospital. The BBC is to launch at least two internal investigations and the government may face civil claims, yet to be determined in number.
Jimmy Savile was an intelligent paedophile and, in accordance with standard paedophile behaviour, he charmed and wormed his way into positions of trust and authority which gave him free and easy access to young victims.
Speaking as someone who grew up throughout the sixties and seventies, sexual abuse was not uncommon. The reason why it was so prevalent was that it was a silent, taboo subject. Sex was not discussed in the way it is today. It wasn't shown in films, on television or depicted in magazines. It was never mentioned in the home and there were no sex education lessons in school. Underage pregnancy was un-common, abortion was rare and sexually transmitted diseases unusual. It was a different age which provided the perfect environment for predatory males, and there were a lot of them. The sixties decade of free love and sexual emancipation for women, courtesy of the invention of the birth control pill, appears to have lured these despicable men into a decade of new boldness.
There are many women today who suffered throughout the rather strange decade of the seventies who still cannot speak about what happened. I don't write that glibly, but am obliged to do so as the only way of ensuring that amorphous organisations as large as the National Health Service and the BBC, no longer harbour paedophiles in the future, is to ensure that women have the confidence to speak out should any man behave in a way which is sexually inappropriate.
Women still don't feel comfortable articulating their experience when they have been abused and predators still rely on this phenomenon. It appears to me, that the only way to break down the final barrier of shame is for women who have been abused, to follow in the footsteps of the brave women who are speaking out today. The women who were abused by Jimmy Savile are clearing the path for others to follow.
Although much improved, sex education lessons in school today fall woefully short of preparing young people for the outside world.
I have debated and argued this enough times in Parliament. I truly hope that some good can come from these revelations. It is time for the Department of Education to realise that in the world we live in today, sex and relationship counselling in schools has to be fit for purpose, standardised across appropriate ages and all encompassing. The fact that we have the largest number of abortions and the fastest growing transmission rate of of STIs amongst young people in Europe, should surely have been enough to guaranteed this happened, but sadly, no. In addition to sex education as we know it, we now need a further, more detailed element which warns, educates and prepares young people to spot inappropriate behaviour and disclose it, without worry or shame.
The BBC and the Government are about to go through a very uncomfortable time. Lets hope we can all learn from this. No barriers to disclosure and women able to speak out without embarrassment, improved sex education in schools and a greater awareness to the 'danger within' amongst large organisations like the BBC, this outcome is the very least we should expect.