Gang in Oxford Accused of Raping, Drugging, and Sex-Trafficking Girls as Young as 11

It took more than half an hour in a London court today to read out the 51 counts against the 9 Oxford men accused of crimes including rape, forcing a child into prostitution and trafficking and using an instrument to procure a miscarriage. The abuse took place over a period of nearly eight years, with the victims between the ages of 11 and 15.

The prosecutor, Noel Lucas QC, warned the jury:

"The depravity of what was done to the complainants was extreme.... The facts in this case will make you feel uncomfortable. Much of what the girls were forced to endure was perverted in the extreme."

The victims were allegedly bitten, suffocated, burnt, urinated on, raped vaginally, orally and anally and abused with weapons including knives, baseball bats, knives and meat cleavers.

The men are accused of preying on vulnerable girls, who came from troubled backgrounds, and whose stories would be doubted and behavior questioned. In behavior typical of abusers, the men would manipulate and play mind games with their victims. Lucas explained how the girls were manipulated "simply shown the care and attention they very much craved....The attention lavished on the girls at the outset was of course entirely insincere, as it was merely a device, you may conclude once you hear the evidence, to exploit their vulnerability."

The men also plied the girls cannabis, cocaine, crack and sometimes heroin, "so many drugs they were barely aware of what was going on – indeed they say it was the only way they could cope with what was going on," explained Lucas. "The girls became addicted to certain of the drugs and felt unable to live without them. This made them even more dependent on the men." According to Lucas, the girls were threatened "that should they ever seek to free themselves from the grasp of the group they and their families would suffer serious harm."

Once the girls had grown dependent on their abusers, they would be sent out to lure more girls into the criminal ring. Detective Superintendent Rob Mason said the investigation, which began in March, "has been very challenging. The girls are very vulnerable and a number of them do not consider themselves to be victims.

Sadly, this is just the latest horrific rape story from today's headlines. It is a reminder that rape isn't an Indian problem or a Syrian problem. It is a transcultural and international epidemic.

image via Kuzma/ Shutterstock