No one community is predisposed to child abuse

25th Dec 2020
No one community is predisposed to child abuse

(Photo credit: postermywall)

Three years ago, the controversial Quilliam Foundation made the incendiary assertion that 84 per cent of grooming gangs are Asian, the majority “of Pakistani origin with Muslim heritage.”

Without any evidence and riddled with inconsistencies and errors, the allegation faced fierce criticism from academics. Yet, such was the sensationalism it quickly garnered headlines nonetheless, cementing the narrative of an “epidemic” of Asian grooming gangs that proved perfect fodder for racists and right-wing extremists.

By July 2018, the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, ordered research into the characteristics of child sexual abuse gangs, such as those that have blighted towns and cities like Rotherham, Oxford and Newcastle in recent years. He pledged there would be “no no-go areas of inquiry” and that he would “not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it.”

Reacting the conviction of one grooming gang, Javid tweeted, ‘These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice. I want to commend the bravery of the victims. For too long, they were ignored. Not on my watch. There will be no no-go areas.’ Javid was condemned for noting the perpetrators’ ethnicity with Labour MP David Lammy accusing him of bringing the Home Office into “disrepute.”

“By singling out ‘Asians’ he not only panders to the far right but increases the risk of violence and abuse against minorities across the country. Whatever the underlying motives of the offenders involved, paedophilia is an abhorrent crime that affects all communities. It does no service to the victims of this evil to pin the blame on anyone group.”

Despite his commitment, the Home Office initially refused to release the findings claiming that it was not in the public interest to do so in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Independent newspaper.

But it was only after a petition was signed by more than 130,000 people and for the issue to be taken up twice by the Petitions Committee, that Javid’s replacement Priti Patel said that she would “publish a paper on group-based child sexual exploitation later this year, which will set out their findings and set the direction for future policy and research.”

Her pledge insisted upon first setting up “an External Reference Group of experts to review the research before its publication.” As reported on page 1, the findings on the ethnicity of offenders reported that the majority of child sexual abuse gangs are made up of white men under the age of 30, which dispels racist smears linking most grooming to Asian men.

“Research on offender ethnicity is limited and tends to rely on poor quality data. It is therefore difficult to draw conclusions about differences in ethnicity of offenders, but it is likely that no one community or culture is uniquely predisposed to offending,” the Home Office said.

Unhappy with the findings in a foreword to the report, Patel expressed her disappointment, still insisting that “community and cultural factors are relevant to understanding and tackling offending.”

In her delayed Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, she said she would include “a commitment to improving the collection and analysis of data on group-based child sexual exploitation, including in relation to characteristics of offenders such as ethnicity and other factors.” Victims and survivors of these abhorrent crimes had told her “how they were let down by the state in the name of political correctness,” she claimed.

There can be no disagreement on the abhorrence of child abuse crimes to any society, but it has become too easy a scapegoat British ills on “Johnny Foreigner” and particularly upon Muslims.

There can be no doubt that some Pakistani men have been involved in grooming gangs and deserve to be singled out and condemned like all other named nationalities and ethnicities of offenders mentioned in the report, like American, Angolan, Bangladeshi, Bengali, British, Bulgarian, Congolese, Dutch, Eritrean, Indian, Iranian, Jamaican, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Somali, Syrian, and Zimbabwean.
Child abuse remains one of the worst stains on the country’s conscience that deserves much soul-searching.

As recent as in November, a damning international report found that the extent of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was being ‘swept under the carpet’. Last February, the long-awaited investigation into historical allegations against MPs, peers and civil servants found political institutions “significantly failed in their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse.”

The political establishment spent decades turning “a blind eye” to allegations of child sexual abuse, with high-profile politicians protected from police action as whips sought to avoid “gossip and scandal” which would damage the parties, the scathing report has found.

When the Johnson Government finally gets around to publishing the first of its kind cross-government strategy to improve the UK’s response to tackling these abhorrent crimes, we trust the Home Secretary will leave no stone unturned to “work across all agencies – including government, law enforcement, safeguarding and industry – to stop offenders in their tracks and to help victims and survivors rebuild their lives.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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