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Tonight we saw the second episode of the three part series which retells the tragic story of the abuse ring that ran in Rochdale in 2008/09, which saw a number of girls let down by multiple institutions in society.

The girls were groomed by gangs of men in Rochdale and the surrounding areas, and were forced into prostitution, were raped and were abused.

Despite numerous attempts to alert the authorities of the horrendous crimes that were taking place, the police, social services and justice system turned a blind eye, and all the while, Sara Rowbotham, played by Maxine Peak in the BBC drama, was doing her utmost to help the victims.

The sexual health worker who alerted the authorities to the sickening trend of grooming is now trying to move past that dark period in her life, and put the past behind her.

Next week, she'll appear on Channel 4's First Dates, eager to move on and find happiness.

Candidly, she speaks to the camera, explaining why she's decided to appear on the show:

The story was sensational and tragic and awful and shook the world.

I'm coming out of a very difficult, dark time.
I'm ready to start to live my life again where I haven't been for such a long time.
And be able to just have nice times and not be so stressed or worried or anxious or angry. To be carefree.

She later tells her date about her involvement in the case, and that her life has been adapted for the series.

Credit: Channel 4

In an article for The Guardian, Rowbotham explains the sights she saw while trying to save the girls, and how she was ignored by institutions set up to help these girls.

Once I began to see the magnitude of the problem, I went out of my way to tell everyone about it. But it seemed the scale of this crime was something people just couldn't face up to. My calls to police were ignored and social workers told me the girls were making lifestyle choices. At the time I thought I was going mad. How could no one see we were in the midst of a major crisis where girls were being raped on an industrial scale?
By now, I would turn up for work at 8.30am to find a huddle of shivering girls sitting on the steps. They were aged 13 and 14. Their hair was matted, their clothes were dirty and they looked terrible. But you didn't really notice this, as the only thing that properly registered was the fear in their eyes. They had been taken to Saddleworth Moor the night before, violently raped by a gang of men and thrown out of the car. They had walked miles through the night from the South Pennines back to Rochdale to wait for our centre to open.
We'd make them a cup of tea, take them to a sexual health clinic to test for and treat sexually transmitted infections and call the police. But, again, the police didn't want to know.

Rowbotham deserves absolute praise for trying as hard as she did to help those in dire situations, and we hope she manages to find love and happiness and leave the past behind her.

Featured Image Credit: BBC/Channel 4

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Jade Moscrop

Jade Moscrop heads up the Pretty52 team. She has an unhealthy obsession with her dog, loves all varieties of cheese and doesn't mind a glass of wine or two.

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