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BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

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BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Tue 6 Oct - 23:37

Broadcast - Mon 5 Oct 2009 , 20:00, BBC Radio 4 (Duration: 30 mins)

Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence

Penny Marshall investigates the dark secret of women who sexually abuse children.

Female sexual abuse of children goes against everything we want to believe about women. The thought of mothers overstepping the boundaries of love to abuse their children is so threatening and shameful that it has become one of the most under-reported of crimes. However, recent research suggests that they are responsible for up to 20 per cent of all abuse. Because there was often denial that women could behave in such a way, it has remained under-researched and many incorrect assumptions and beliefs still surround the subject, even among professionals.

Penny hears shattering stories from the abused and talks to those working with offenders to try to understand their behaviour and motivations.


Last edited by Schnuffel on Mon 29 Mar - 12:23; edited 3 times in total

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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Sat 7 Nov - 10:22

This is so freaking sad

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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Mon 7 Dec - 9:07

The Times article posted to compliment the Radio 4 documentary, Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence.

From The Times
October 5, 2009

The shadow of female sex abusers

The tragic Little Ted’s nursery case has forced us to face an unfortunate truth: that women use children for sex too.

Susannah Faithfull has been haunted by her mother’s image for all of her adult life. She sees her every time she looks in the mirror, for she has inherited her mother’s startling blue eyes. But every time Susannah is reminded of her mother, she is reminded of a childhood full of trauma. She was systematically sexually abused by her mother; repeatedly hurt by the woman she looked to first for her security, care and support.

“I used to hide in the cupboard under the stairs,” she tells me, explaining that was the only place that she felt safe at home. “My nana had a chenille-type table cloth there and I used to hide underneath it. When my mum came back from work she’d be shouting for me.”

Susannah now runs the Aurora Health Foundation, a treatment centre for victims — or survivors, as some like to be known — of child sex abuse. Her testimony is part of my Radio 4 documentary, Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence, which airs tonight.

Her abuse began when Susannah was very small and her father had left the household. It continued until she herself left home at 16, and throughout all that time her mother forced her to share a bedroom with her, and a double bed. When she told her father about the abuse during a visit, he didn’t believe her.

“The more I cried, the worse it would be. We used to have this rose wallpaper and I used to just look at the roses and wish that I was dead. How can the mother that gave birth to you do those things to you?”

Last week when two women, both of them mothers, pleaded guilty to charges of serious sexual abuse in a Bristol court room, it forced us to confront the reality that Susannah has known for most of her 54 years: that women can and sometimes do sexually abuse the children in their care.

It’s a reality that has always been thought to be very rare. There are a very small number of convictions (2 per cent of all sexual crimes, according to the Ministry of Justice). But when the cases occur they upset us greatly because they challenge every comforting and accepted image we have of women and of mothers in particular.

So just how rare an occurrence is it? The statistics are hard to pin down and some think they may not tell the whole story. We do know that there are now about 50 women held in custody for sexual offences against children, a tiny fraction of the total. We also know that there are some women on the sex offenders register, although we don’t know how many because the Home Office doesn’t keep details of gender.

We also know that those working in the field believe it is an underreported crime because the stigma associated with it prevents victims coming forward.

Detective Superintendent Graham Hill works at CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency. He heads the Behavioural Therapy Unit and interviews female sex offenders. He believes that as many as one in five of all cases of sexual abuse may involve female perpetrators. “I don’t think there’s a police force in the country that isn’t currently dealing with a female child sex offender,” he tells me, adding that this was just the “tip of the iceberg”.

According to Hill, ten or fifteen years ago most crimes involving accusations of child sexual abuse that the police dealt with were always examined on the premise that the man was the guilty party.

“It was always the case that the female in the family was treated as a potential witness,” he says. “One of our messages to law enforcement officers now is that, when you investigate a serious sexual offence against a child, you should always look at how complicit the female is in that kind of offending.”

And not always just complicity. Hill believes that the public’s perception that female sex offenders usually operate alongside a controlling and manipulative man is often false. He dismisses that stereotypical image as a societal cliché born out of a reluctance to believe that a woman could act so heinously alone and for her own sexual gratification.

“The public’s perception is coloured by the high-profile crimes, the sort of duos in the press. And the thought is that a bad man and a bad woman equal a perfect storm. But what I’m looking at at this centre are women who do have a sexual interest in children in their own right. We even have some examples where women have brought men into their lives just to facilitate sex with their children.”

Bill Jenkins doesn’t know whether his foster mother deliberately took him into care so that she could abuse him. But that was the tragic result and he, like other victims of female child abusers, says that, while he spoke about the abuse at the time, no one investigated it or believed him.

He now runs a company devising and selling software to protect children who are online from harm. He is clearly driven by the memory that no one was there to help and protect him as a child. His abuse consisted of inappropriate touching when his foster mother forced him to bath her. He told me he remembered that the door handles in the bathroom seemed to be quite high. “I suppose that was because I was so small. She was a harsh-looking woman — great big eyes, right in my face. I was always frightened of her.”

That his abuser was a woman makes it more difficult to deal with: “I don’t think any man would feel particularly comfortable admitting that they had been sexually abused by a woman. It is almost like a dark world that has yet to be revealed.”

Dr Michele Elliott knows all about challenging accepted beliefs and trying to expose what Bill calls that “dark world”: she runs Kidscape, a charity set up to support the victims of childhood abuse. In the 1980s, when the issue of sexual abuse by men had only just begun to receive mainstream acknowledgement, Elliott was one of the first in this country to raise the possibility that women could sexually harm children. She was pilloried for it.

“I vividly remember talking at an RAF base about the sexual abuse of children,” she tells me. “I never said anything about women abusing; I didn’t even think that was possible. Afterwards a man came up in his uniform standing very straight and he said, ‘You know, it isn’t only men who do it. My mother did it to me.’ Then he walked out and I was left so shaken that I started to think maybe I should ask questions." Elliott began to talk about the issue on radio and TV and the response was immediate: “It was like a floodgate had opened.”

Among those who contacted her was a woman who had spent 40 years locked in an asylum after reporting that she had been sexually abused at school by a nun. More than 800 victims have now been in touch with her because of female sexual abuse. But Elliott says that she often feels like a lone voice.

“No one really wants to talk about it. But the professionals are the ones who really annoy me. I’d say that 75 per cent of them are in denial — a mental block. I think there are professionals working in the field who have staked a career on a certainty that it is men who do the abusing. They are very threatened by the idea that that might not be true.”

There is also, among professionals, a very real concern that focusing on the abusive behaviour of a very small minority of women causes unnecessary panic in a society that is already stressed about child safety.

But most of those working in this field welcome a chance to break the silence. They believe that the issue has been underresearched and ignored for too long.

Diana Cant is a psychologist who counsels those who have suffered female sexual abuse. While there are still some who do not believe that female sexual abuse is even possible, given that “women don’t have the necessary physical equipment”, Cant has found that there are many forms of abusive behaviour. These can range from watching inappropriate videos and TV programmes to inappropriate exposure, masturbation, stimulation and penetration.

The harm it does is terrible: “If you think about the experience that we have as children, we expect a degree of safety and security and primary care from our mothers. If that expectation is confounded, something at a very primitive level is broken and gets destroyed. The child grows up immediately with a sense of fear and threat. That can lead to an underlying degree of anger, resentment and fury that colours adult life.”

Tragically the children that women most often abuse are the ones closest to them. Women are less likely to be predatory in their criminal behaviour, according to Hill, although the CEOP does come across occasional exceptions.

“Predominantly the female sex offenders we know about offend against children they know,” says Hill. “They offend in a controlled environment. They tend to stay close to home.”

And they often also tend to stay close to the internet. It appears that, while sexual offending most certainly predates the development of the internet and digital photography, the emergence of both have made offending easier. “These people have always had a sexual interest in children,” says Hill. “But the internet validates and fuels those existing beliefs. And it puts them in touch with like-minded people.”

That the internet is affecting the pattern of offending is clear to everyone involved in this area of criminal behaviour.

Sherry Ashfield, from the child protection charity, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, is one of the few people in this country who has spent time talking to convicted female offenders. She has seen an increase in the number of women who use chatrooms to meet like-minded adults and then go on to use the web to share obscene and illegal material.

So what do we know about the women who offend and what motivates them? Through her work at Lucy Faithfull, Ashfield has been able to build up a profile of sorts. Although she stresses that these women do come from a wide range of backgrounds, vary in age and personal histories, “they all have very complex personal histories, often with complex issues and experience of abuse,” she says. “They tend to be women with low selfesteem; women who are socially isolated, and who find dealing with emotion extremely difficult. They tend to have a history of depression.”

Their motivation varies too. Ashfield’s research suggests that while some women will abuse to please or keep a partner, others will abuse to meet their own sexual needs. Some may also abuse for money: “We have had women who have had debts who have met someone on the internet who has suggested that if they would take part in making abusive films or pictures of children they would pay them significant sums,” she says.

There is no simple answer as to why women do it. No clear trigger either — although most difficult of all for me to hear was that for some women caring for a tiny, helpless newborn can trigger abusive behaviour. It’s an awful thought; one of many I’ve had to contend with while investigating this difficult subject.

While making this programme my aunt asked me why, when there is so much beauty in the world, must I explore something so ugly? And here is my answer: everyone I interviewed while making the documentary told me how important it was that we examine this crime and force it into the open.

“It’s an issue that has been locked away for too long and we need to get everyone talking about this problem openly and honestly,” says Hill. “That in itself will be a major step forward in our battle against child sex abuse.”

Hill, like the victims and all those I spoke to during this investigation, agreed to talk because they felt that breaking the silence surrounding the issue of female sexual abuse will better help the victims and better protect our children.


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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Fri 12 Feb - 2:28

Susannah Faithfull Aurora Health Foundation


Thank you for highlighting this programme on Female Sexual Abuse of Children.

I was a contributor to the radio programme – Susannah Faithfull -and as a Survivor/Therapist I have set up a registered UK Charity AURORA HEALTH FOUNDATION that offers specialist support to adult men and women survivors of childhood abuse & trauma and their supporters.

Aurora has just been refused government sexual violence core funding and is going through another funding crisis. My partner and I run Aurora on a voluntary basis and have exhausted all our personal funds to keep Aurora going.

Many of our clients have been abused by females and all of our clients desperately need our help.

Following the BBC Radio 4 and the Times interviews on 5th October 2009 and then ITV This Morning programme on 15 October we have had many requests for help.

Because we need to find £1600 per month for rent and bills we are only able to offer our services if clients can afford fees.

Previously we were able to provide our services on a low cost/sliding scale but very sadly we now cannot.

If there is anyone out there that can genuinely help us in any way please contact Aurora Health Foundation.

We work all the hours we can and have a dedicated staff team who want and are helping adult victims of childhood abuse.

We want to keep going and help more survivors – please help us to help them before it is too late…

We must stop the abuse of children and support those who have been abused in childhood.

Please help !


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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Mon 29 Mar - 12:16

Mother/Daughter Sexual Abuse

"Who will love me?" documentary trailer

Making Daughters Safe Again (MDSA) presents the extended trailer for its upcoming documentary, Who will love me?: Four stories of mother-daughter sexual abuse. In this compelling documentary, four courageous women share their personal abuse histories and paths to healing from an often overlooked form of sexual abuse.

MDSA is the only organization in the world specializing exclusively on providing support programs, information and resources for mother-daughter sexual abuse. Visit us on the web at http://mdsa-online.org

© 2010, Making Daughters Safe Again, Dr. Christine Hatchard


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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Sat 10 Apr - 13:33

The radio broadcast at the link is no longer working. You can still get the audio file of the show at http://www.female-offenders.com/resources.html and it is labeled the same as the original post.

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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Sun 11 Apr - 4:29

the secret behind closed doors

spreading awareness and information of abuse

Female sexual abusers

Posted by shadowlight and co on February 7, 2010

“Society expects the mother of a toddler would do everything in her power to make sure her child is protected from harm,”

While female sexual abusers are rare in the court system, those who deal with child sexual abuse know that cases that do come through are far from unique. A national study released in 2005 shows that biological mothers were the perpetrators of sexual abuse in five per cent of the substantiated cases investigated by child welfare authorities.

The instance is probably higher, since researchers are certain that many cases of child sexual abuse never come to light. “A lot of people have difficulty believing women are capable of sexually abusing children,”

Even victims of such abuse, looking back at it as adults, have a hard time talking about it. When work and survays have been done within prisons it is found that many men had been abused by women but that they often had difficulty identifying it as abuse.

A U.S. report, entitled Child Sexual Abuse — The Predators, explains it this way. “Mothers generally have more intimate contact with their children, and the lines between maternal love and care and sexual abuse are not as clear-cut as they are for fathers”. Therefore, the report says, “Sexual abuse by mothers may remain undetected because it occurs at home and is either denied or never reported.”

A 2003 U.S. study questioned a random sample of adults to determine the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse. It found that of the 32 per cent of females and 14 per cent of males who identified themselves as victims, nine per cent of women and 39 per cent of men said they had been abused by at least one female.

While figures are usually inflated, studies of male sex offenders show 45 to 50 per cent were themselves victims of sexual abuse. Currently research is ongoing into counselling practices for female survivors of sexual abuse to see if they should be asked if they’ve ever in turn abused anyone.

Why has it taken so long to bring out the problem of female sexual abuse?

Female sexual abuse seems to be more of a taboo because:

(1) Female sexual abuse is more threatening – it undermines feelings about how women should relate to children.

(2) It has taken years for people to recognise that children are sexually abused, but that sexual abuse has been placed in the context of male power and aggression. Women are not supposed to be sexually aggressive and the male power theory eliminates them as possible abusers, unless they are coerced by males.

(3) People find it difficult to understand exactly how a woman could sexually abuse a child. They are not seen to be capable of this kind of abuse.

(4) When adult survivors of female abuse have told their stories, they have often met with the rebuttal that they are fantasising. A child recently told that her mother had sexually abused her, along with the child’s father. The therapeutic team took the view that she was clearly projecting and fantasising. The abuse by the father was never in doubt. Only after a second assessment by a well-known team at a children’s hospital, was the child believed.

(5) Current statistics indicate that sexual abuse of children by females is rare. Estimates are that 5% of abuse of girls and 20% of abuse of boys is perpetrated by women. Previous statistics indicated that child sexual abuse was rare, even by males. That has since been shown to be untrue. Statistics are based upon what we are told and may give a false picture if some victims are not telling.

How many of the victims of female sexual abuse are boys? How many are girls?

Approximately 40% men; 60% women.

Do victims of female abuse suffer in similar ways to victims of male abuse?

Like the victims of male abuse, their lives have been dramatically affected. They have: turned to drugs, alcohol, solvents; often attempted suicide; and may have gender identity problems. One man, made to dress in girl’s underwear by his abusers, has continued this behaviour into adult life and has difficulty with relationships. A disturbing aspect of some of the cases is the hatred of and violence towards women and girls that some of the men admit feeling.

The abused also often have:

(i) difficulties maintaining relationships
(ii) unresolved anger, shame and guilt
(iii) self- mutilated
(iv) been anorexic or bulimic
(v) suffered chronic depression
(vi) suffered from panic attacks
(vii) become agoraphobic
(viii) in some cases, sexually abused children
(ix) been fearful of touching their own children

How much does abuse by mothers affect the adult survivors?

Those who were sexually abused by their mothers seem to have an overpowering need to find bonding mother- love. Many of the survivors say that, though they hate their mothers for what they did, they still want to be loved by their mothers and would not confront them – as one woman said ‘with flowers, let alone with the abuse that she perpetrated on me’.


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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Mon 7 Jun - 1:06

What Child Sexual Abuse Means to Women & Girl Perpetrators

By Jane Gilgun

Published: Mar. 07, 2010

Women and girls sexually abuse children far more often than many people realize. This article describes what child sexual abuse means to women and girl perpetrators. Sexual abuse by women and girls can be confusing for girls and boys. They often feel stigmatized because of wide spread-assumptions that only men sexually abuse children.


What Child Sexual Abuse Means to Women & Girl Perpetrators

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Re: BBC Radio 4 Broadcast - Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence + Issue Related Info

Post  Guest on Sun 25 Jul - 21:15

Jeremy Keeling: the monkey man's dark secret

15 Jul 2010

For 50 years, Jeremy Keeling, one of the world's foremost experts on primates, harboured a terrible secret, he tells Cassandra Jardine.

For 50 years, Jeremy Keeling kept his secret. During that time he became one of the foremost experts on primates in the world, but also saw four marriages end in divorce. His relationships were poisoned, like his early life, by the secret he felt he could not talk about, even to a wife.

His friend, Jim Cronin, with whom he set up the only ape rescue centre in the world, knew that Jeremy was dragging around a huge psychological burden. But it was only three years ago that Keeling, shortly after his 50th birthday, took a deep breath and spat it out. "I was sexually abused by my mother," he told Cronin.

The revelation merits only a passing reference in Keeling's autobiography, Jeremy and Amy (Amy being the orang-utan who is a key figure in his life), although he does not hold back on other aspects of his nightmarish childhood. Throughout the book, he hides behind the defence of being a "realist", someone who likes to get on with the job of rescuing animals, rather than looking back over past misery. So when I meet him at Monkey World, in Dorset, I am prepared for the man with the cheery grin and empathy for untalkative primates to stonewall on this most painful, but also pertinent, of subjects.

Last year's revelations that Vanessa George, who worked in a nursery school, was involved in child abuse and pornography awoke many innocents to the fact that it is not only men who abuse. Women do it, too – and many are mothers who abuse their own sons. The idea that the source of a child's security is capable of such a thing is almost unthinkable, yet ChildLine reports that nearly a quarter of sexual abuse calls relate to women.

As we walk past the rangy gym-filled enclosures filled with playful chimps and spider monkeys, orang-utans and marmosets, Keeling is stopped by admirers every step of the way. Some are animals who shriek with joy at the sight of the man who saved them from wretchedness in laboratories or as beach performers. But Keeling has many human fans, too, viewers of Monkey Business and Monkey Life, the long-running documentary series about his work as animal director of Monkey World, running rescue missions to all corners of the earth.

Admirers ask him to sign copies of his book. "Thank you for everything," they say as he obliges. "Thank you for making it possible by coming here," he replies.

Far from being a misanthrope who has only found satisfaction in relationships with animals, Keeling these days appears a man at peace with the world, content on the "desert island" of the 65-acre sanctuary near Wareham where he lives happily with Lou, his fifth wife, who conserves butterflies. "She can stay," he says, teasingly referring to his poor marital record.

Admitting to the abuse three years ago seems to have transformed him from being a "grumpy old man" – as he describes himself in the book. But it is still a subject he approaches with caution, for Keeling is of the old school that abhors fuss, therapy and self-pity. Sitting in the privacy of his office, he answers direct questions, reluctantly at first.

"What was the abuse?" I ask.

"I slept with her, the lot."

How old were you?

"About 12, 13."

Did you protest?

"No, I was enjoying it. It's only afterwards that you begin to..."

Slowly the picture of his horrendously dysfunctional family emerges. Jeremy, the second of four children, was never close to either of his parents, Jill and Clinton, who ran Pan's Garden, a private zoo in the Pennines. They were a wretched couple. His mother was born lame with a dislocated hip, and then lost her fiancé in a plane crash days before the wedding. Those events left her with a "bitter resentment" towards the world, which she took out on the man she married, but never loved.

Their fights were constant and vicious. The other three children sided with their mother – the more intelligent and dominant of the pair. Jeremy retained some loyalty to his father, even though he showed no sensitivity towards his son. "When I walked in on my mother having sex with another bloke, my father thought it funny that I was distressed."

His decision not to take sides led to his mother pushing him through a window when he intervened in a fight. Tensions came to a head when his father - "a working class man with delusions of grandeur" - ran off with a rich divorcee. His attempts, aged 12, to keep in touch led to his mother throwing him out of the house to live in a broken-down caravan in a nearby field – for which she charged him £4 a week rent.

It was then, possibly in a perverted attempt to control him, that his sexually frustrated mother began to insist that he came into her bed; love-deprived Jeremy went willingly. At the time of the abuse, he was the academic star of the family, having won a scholarship to a grammar school in Chesterfield. Once the abuse started, he was unable to concentrate at school.

"I'll show you my reports," he says, retrieving a tattered manilla envelope. Its contents tell a story that, these days, would surely cause teachers to suspect that something was wrong at home, even if the child was too anxious about breaking up the home to tell anyone. "Work has deteriorated", "Making no progress", "Jeremy's attitude to school needs serious examination," say one teacher after another.

But nobody did anything. Not even the librarian who watched him arrive each morning to take a new book, always adventure stories that took him far from his own grim life. "She thought I was only pretending to read them, but all I did from the moment I left school until the moment I arrived back there was read." School lunch provided his only proper meal.

The abuse, which began as he hit puberty, lasted for around a year, after which he was totally cast out by his mother. Some years later, when he was in a car crash, she begged doctors not to bring him out of a coma. After such a childhood, suicide might be the result – as it often is for victims of abuse. But Jeremy Keeling, who left home at 18 to work in other zoos, found a purpose in life through his love of animals – in particular through Amy, a baby orang-utan who had been rejected by her mother.

He showed Amy, now 27, all the love that he had never had himself, except occasionally from a grandparent. Bottle-fed and kept warm by babygros, she clung to him and gradually began to thrive. Step by step he encouraged her to become independent. She came with him as he moved from one zoo and marriage to another, he also acquired three children of his own – aged 33, 24 and 22 – of whom he speaks with pride and affection.

But the consuming project of his last 23 years has been Monkey World. From tiny beginnings on a former pig farm, the rescue centre is now home to 232 animals, including 58 chimps and 14 orang-utans. Apart from a few bred to preserve the gene pool of endangered species, all have been taken from abusive situations. Some had been used in animal experiments, others had been forced to entertain holidaymakers. Many small monkeys – capuchins and marmosets – were bought as pets, then discarded when their owners couldn't cope. "It is still legal, even in this country," he says despairingly.

Walking around the sanctuary, he points out individuals, mostly chimps, because they are sociable, unlike orang-utans. There's Ben, a photographer's prop from Mexico, who had his teeth smashed to prevent him biting clients; Trudy, rescued (after a court case) from circus-owner Mary Chipperfield in 1998, who beat her into submission for performance; Lulu, a chimp with one arm rescued from a travelling circus in Cyprus.

A few of these animals – including his beloved Amy – are hiding, but most are having a ball, playing with one another in spacious, toy-strewn surroundings. They, no less than Jeremy Keeling himself, are living proof that it is possible to overcome terrible experiences.


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