JUST Yorkshire strongly condemns Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham, incendiary statement in the SUN newspaper “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls… and it’s time we faced up to it.”
The fact that a Labour party Minister, that is also the shadow minister for equalities and women would choose to racialize paedophilia and child sexual exploitation/grooming along ethnic lines is not only irresponsible, it is inciting and inviting hatred against minorities, predominantly the Pakistani community, and those people that are perceived to be of that heritage. In essence providing fuel to the extreme far right, and further legitimising the use of racial rhetoric. We are deeply worried she has done this at a time when we have already seen a 5 fold increase in racial hatred and Islamophobia in this country.
Nadeem Murtuja, Chair of JUST Yorkshire stated:
I am incredibly disappointed in reading the statements that Sarah has made in both the Independent and the Sun newspapers. Furthermore, JUST strongly condemns every form of gender based violence, abuse and power and welcomes the convictions of all people that commit such heinous crimes.
To attempt to define the issue of child sexual abuse/grooming along ethnic lines, and to see the Pakistani community through the prism of paedophilia and criminality is frankly racist – or even claiming there is something inherent in their heritage is bordering on industrial scale racism. No community in the UK should be defined through that Prism.
Moreover, by making this issue one of race and ethnicity, and potentially dividing communities along those lines, is deeply worrying, as it takes away from the much needed focus – the reasons and causes of the actual abuse. Let’s not forget that in Rotherham, where Sarah is an MP, 109 victims of the 1400 were from an Asian/Pakistani and probably a Muslim background – we have not heard a single MP or media station banging that drum – apart from charities mainly run by Muslim women tackling all forms of gender-based violence. This fact proves that abusers do not discriminate. The question Sarah needs to ask is why these Muslim girls/women, like other victims have not come forward and consider commissioning some research into that. To make generalising and inflammatory statements is incredibly damaging to the cause of tackling grooming – to marginalise a whole community in this way, a community that already feels under siege, and is asked to carry the burden for many of the ills of society, will only isolate them further.
If Sarah, really wanted to commission research to understand the underlying issues of abuse and grooming, she could have come to us, and many other agencies, including the Council, instead of going to the national press and attempting to politicise this matter. It is incredibly worrying that a champion of so called victims would choose to take this action, particularly given the fact that Rotherham has been under siege from the EDL. Our interaction with the South Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, Alan Billings during the PCC election process confirmed on tape that South Yorkshire Police and the Council made a grave mistake in associating faith in the profiling of perpetrators – and that it was local communities that suffered as a result of this. Despite this knowledge, I find it astonishing that an MP like Sarah regards this as a risk worth taking, given the tragic fact that Rotherham has also experienced the Islamophobic motivated murder of Muhsin Ahmed – who was called a groomer as he was being murdered.
Evan Davis, the BBC Newsnight presenter made this point in terms of statistical evidence:
“It is incredibly dodgy to make ethnic and religious generalisations comparing for instance non-muslim and muslims on the basis of tiny populations of offenders, even if a Muslim man is 10 times more likely to be convicted of a sexual offence than a non-Muslim man, which he’s not, the numbers are tiny in both groups – so you’re literally talking about 99.996% non-offending compared to 99.96% that are non-offending – so few people offend in both groups, you could double the numbers in both groups and it still makes little difference to either group overall – so, you have to be careful of making sweeping statements”
Whilst Evan’s statement is useful and provides context, we have to say categorically that no paedophile or sexual abuser is so because of their faith, and for the BBC to suggest, and repeatedly use the term Muslim is on one hand ill-informed and on the other abhorrent. Despite the fact there have been a number of child grooming cases and convictions involving various religious institutions such as the Catholic Church – the Catholic faith has never been used in the context of criminality and paedophilia.
Furthermore, the notion that ethnicity has played any role in preventing front-line officers acting is an absolute nonsense. Prof. Jay’s report said that while ethnicity did not impact on the way front-line staff dealt with cases, it did affect the wider picture, with some staff in children’s social care saying they were “advised by their managers to be cautious about referring to the ethnicity of the perpetrators” in reports. Putting it frankly, minorities and so called “political correctness” should not be blamed for institutional failures in why victims of sexual abuse were not supported.
Finally, we condemn any form of threat made towards Sarah Champion for speaking out – and we urge local enforcement agencies to provide the maximum protection. We also welcome any form of research into grooming, sexual abuse and paedophilia etc. As long as the terms of reference are clearly defined and not set to further incite racial hatred and divide communities. Furthermore, as an organisation with an office in Rotherham, we through our partners have approached the Council to undertake some meaningful research and action to address issues and open up conversations relating to cultural conservatism and gender inequality in the south Asian community – unfortunately we were knocked back – our offer still stands.
Endorsed by the Pakistan Association of Bristol.