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  Opinion   Oped  19 Aug 2017  Ethnic heritage behind child abuse

Ethnic heritage behind child abuse

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Aug 19, 2017, 1:58 am IST
Updated : Aug 19, 2017, 1:58 am IST

Some Labour MPs supported Ms Champion’s stance and said the ethnic factor had to be socially and criminally investigated.

Representational image
 Representational image

“Fill my cup with wine not water
The fates are cruel they give no quarter
Give me days and nights full of passion
Though weary now, aligned to the paths of compassion!”

From Merey Tthandey Andey by Bachchoo

Seventeen men and one woman were convicted last week in Newcastle of paedophilia, trafficking of children for sex and rape drugging minors and grooming minors for prostitution. This gang were all British Muslims of Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian origin.

The Newcastle police’s special operation to counter child sex abuse claims it has secured 111 convictions of mainly Muslim men in the last few years. Add to that figure the conviction of nine men in Rochdale near Manchester in 2012; six people this year in Rotherham -- four Muslim men and two non-Muslim white women accomplices; eight men in 2016 in Rotherham; six men again in Rotherham in 2015 -- all for the same offences of rape, grooming and prostitution of underage vulnerable girls. Apart from the two white women, the rest were men and all Muslim. How significant is that and does it point to the need for a social and police strategy?

Every time a case comes to court and the perpetrators are sentenced, Britain’s newspapers and politicians jabber away about the protection of vulnerable children. Most of the victims, hundreds in number, in each of these were white, though not exclusively so. There were Asian and mixed-race girls too. Vulnerability knows no colour and these victims, children by any civilised definition, were from broken homes, had lived in orphanages or in care homes, having been removed by the state from their drug-addicted, abusive, jailed or homeless families.

Various ruses, such as pretending to be “boyfriends”, plying them with drugs and alcohol and grooming them for regular abuse and prostitution, were used by the predators.

If one reduces the above cases to statistics it amounts to 130 men from Muslim backgrounds being convicted of running these trafficking child-abuse gangs. Place this number against the three million Muslims that live in Britain, presumably 1.5 million of them male.

Two more facts should perhaps inform any debate or conclusions. According to a university research report, 81.9 per cent of convicted sexual offenders in Britain are white and 5.6 per cent are Asian -- with no breakdown of their religion. The second fact is that apart from the posthumous discovery of TV star Jimmy Saville’s paedophilic crimes, prominent figures in the entertainment field such as Rolf Harris are part of the above 81, 9 per cent. This week a senior Wiltshire police officer’s report says Prime Minister Edward Heath was part of a paedophile ring and was supplied his victims by Jimmy Saville.

This may be sensational nonsense and Ted Heath can’t defend himself from heaven, hell or limbo, so one must take the police chief’s opinion as just that.

The current controversy is about an article written in the tabloid Sun newspaper by Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham and former Labour shadow minister for women and equality. She resigned this week when her article was seen by the Labour leadership as racist and certainly alienating the vast majority of Muslim Labour supporters and voters.

Sarah Champion’s article in the Sun said “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”. She went on to say “for too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage”.    

The reaction from Ms Champion herself, when the objections to her pronouncements hit the news, was to state that the newspaper had pinned a damning headline and framed her article in a distorting and mischievous, even racist context .

The Sun denied this categorically, saying her office had rung them several times after the article was published saying it was perfect and even offered more photographs of Ms Champion if required. Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn invited her to resign.

Some hundred Labour MPs, colleagues of Ms Champion, condemned her stance, saying it was completely out of proportion and should not have targeted “ethnic heritage” which amounted to saying that all Muslims shared traditions which inclined them to such heinous criminality.

Tory Party stalwarts, including their Muslim minister Sajid Javid, defended Ms Champion, implying that he understood she was not in any sense vilifying all Muslims and was indeed pointing at a factor which had to be taken into account when analysing this all too prevalent form of the criminal exploitation of children.

One Amina Lone, co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation, seemed to agree with Javid when she said Ms Champion’s forced resignation was an act of victimisation by the Labour leadership. Ms Lone’s went on to say: “Sarah was talking about a particular type of grooming which is carried on by men because of their cultural/religious practices.”

Some Labour MPs supported Ms Champion’s stance and said the ethnic factor had to be socially and criminally investigated. Did the attitude of these men originate in something that infected a small minority of ethnic communities?

But then the plot thickened. The Daily Mail sought to turn the controversy into an internal battle for power in the Labour Party, pointing out that Sarah Champion, despite being one of the current Labour leadership, was one of the MPs targeted by the central core of the Corbynistas for daring to resign when, months ago, she and other Labour MPs questioned Mr Corbyn’s electability. She subsequently changed her mind and was invited back by Mr Corbyn.

There may be some substance in the Daily Mail’s speculation about an internal animus in the Labour Party but, as I suspect, Mr Corbyn will soon enough overlook the episode and invite Ms Champion back into the shadow cabinet as she is manifestly respected for exposing child sexual abuse and is seen as an asset to the politics of equality.

Tags: child abuse, sarah champion