For once The Muslim News is in agreement with Home Secretary, Theresa May, who described the 16 years of appalling failures by Rotherham Council, the police and other agencies to protect vulnerable children was a “complete dereliction of duty”. No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in the Yorkshire town but a conservative estimate places approximately 1400 incidents between 1997 to 2013 claims that over a third of cases were previously known, but ignored, because of child protection issues and neglect.
“It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated. There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone,” Professor Alexis Jay said in her report on Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham.
But in no way, as was implicated by May, should this be blamed on ‘institutionalised political correctness’. There can be neither excuses nor distractions for the horrendous scandal. Claims that the authorities feared being branded as racist are ludicrous. No one could seriously believe that the authorities felt they had to ignore the abuse, merely because most of the perpetrators were described as Asian. It is just a ploy to deflect the gravity of the failures by politicians, police and other officials to do their jobs.
If a backlash was feared, where would it have come from? Jay reported that throughout the entire period, not one councillor engaged directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address whatever the issue was. Some, she said, seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. While several staff described their nervousness about identifying ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist, others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.
The Muslim community has become an easy target of blame for some of the ills of society. It has become the norm for Muslims to be demonised through intolerance and discrimination and to be victimised by legislation and emergency powers. It has led to a phenomenal growth in Islamophobia.
So often politicians and commentators feel free to vilify the religion in such a disparaging and vindictive way and to accuse Muslims of being behind almost everything. For example, many local councils who have banned celebration of Christmas or displaying of Christmas decorations claimed they were doing it to be politically correct. However, not in even one case was there any evidence that Muslims has asked them to do it or had complained about it. It was all made up.
At a time when Muslims are being so disproportionately singled out for ‘stop and search’, how would it suddenly become politically incorrect to slate Pakistanis with the brush of paedophilia?
From the ongoing historical inquiry into child abuse, it could more easily link perpetrators as being celebrities who worked for the BBC. Before that there was the litany of offenders linked with the Catholic Church.
As May stressed, child sexual exploitation “takes place across all communities” and needs to be recognised that it is not simply a problem with one. It is an unfortunate but abominable scourge of the society we live in today. The blame of the crimes should only be placed on the people who are elected, appointed and recruited to protect children. There is no excuse for them not doing their duty. Paedophiles are criminals and all perpetrators must be brought to justice, no matter what.