With every revelation about Jimmy Savile, there are more questions about how on earth he managed to get away with what appears to be a sustained campaign of abuse for so long.
I am finding it particularly annoying that people are popping up all over the news, nodding sagely and saying, yes, they’d heard rumours about what was happening 40 years ago and some even have information about specific instances of abuse.
Well, all I have to say is why on earth did you not say anything about it then? Why did people simply sit around in the pub or wherever gossiping about this stuff? In what universe is sexual abuse of children an appropriate topic for idle chitchat?
Those who didn’t really know but chewed the fat over the rumours in the pub are one thing, but those who did know, or had a pretty good idea what was going on and did nothing about them, even when the girls made complaints.
I hope they don’t think going on the news now is helpful in any way. It’s certainly not endearing to hear somebody say that they had an idea of what was going on and did nothing about it.They need to be questioning their own motives and actions and should be ashamed to show their faces.
The tragedy is that it’s so difficult to get convictions for these offences. It’s bad enough now, but nobody took allegations seriously 40 years ago and treated those making them with disdain at best. There were people surrounding Savile, who must have each had bits of the jigsaw, who could have put a stop to it and made sure he ended up in jail where he belonged.
Of course, if they had come forward, they would still have come up against a libel-averse press and a Police Force who didn’t care much for these sorts of things, a world run by men for men even more than it is today. But enough people seem to have known enough to have taken this beyond random allegation towards unassailable case.
There aren’t, of course, any severe enough words to deal with a parent whose daughter tells them they’ve been subjected to abuse and they tell her off. You can bet your life that if my daughter said anything like that to me, she’d be listened to, believed and her concerns would be taken forward by the appropriate authorities, making sure every procedure to make it less traumatic for her was followed.
I am far from impressed with the BBC’s role in this. It is no secret that the media (and performing arts for that matter) is a pretty sexist and misogynistic environment to work in. That’s why women are put out to grass the minute they show signs of aging but men get to stick around until they decide to retire. That’s why there’s a casting couch. Liz Kershaw’s account of being sexually assaulted while she was live on air does not indicate a culture where females are seen as anything like equal. There was clearly some sort of cover up within its ranks. When they had a choice between protecting a sleazeball star or vulnerable young girls, it was clear, given that sort of culture, who was going to win through. Anyone who perpetuated that sort of culture similarly should be ashamed of themselves.
The BBC haven’t learned that much if they could so easily bin the Newsnight story compiled as recently as last year. There is a pretty detailed report about what Savile is alleged to have done, who may have known and how widespread it was in last week’s Sunday Times (£). There is much to make decent people wince in that article, but I was particularly disgusted at how Karin Ward, who was featured in the ITV documentary, had been treated recently by the BBC. Not only had she had to talk about that abuse on screen for nothing, but when the current story broke, look what some insensitive BBC idiot did:
Ward says that, despite everything, the BBC contacted her again last Sunday asking for her help. “On Sunday evening, when the Savile story broke, the BBC contacted me and asked if I’d like to take part in their radio phone-in show,” she said.
“I was so incensed by their insensitivity. They obviously hadn’t taken any account of how difficult it is to speak about abuse on camera, to waive your anonymity and have that thrown back in your face, feel like you’ve been kicked in the teeth, and then to contact me like that, out of the blue, wanting to know something about it because everyone else was talking about it . . . I sent them a scathing reply saying ‘Absolutely not, I don’t want anything to do with you.
The truth has come out far too late to ensure that anyone who did wrong back then faces the appropriate consequences. The girls Savile abused have had a life sentence. Anyone who worked with Savile in the last 40 years and who had an incling of what was going on and did nothing should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.