In light of the Rotherham child grooming scandal, commentators have focused on the racial element of the perpetrators. Dilly Hussain argues that the causes of sexual grooming is far more deep rooted in British society.
Earlier this week, a damning report by Professor Alexis Jay revealed yet another despicable case of sexual grooming of children. In the space of 16 years, 1,400 children were sexually abused in the town of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The report mentioned a number of factors in relation to this abhorrent crime: the systematic failure of South Yorkshire Police in its attitude towards the victims, the abysmal mishandling of cases by the child protection services within Rotherham Council, and a reoccurring racial pattern of the perpetrators and their victims.
Race and institutional failures
I reject the racial link between the criminals and their victims, in this case being mainly Pakistani men sexually abusing white girls. The role of race has no relevance to this act of sexual deviancy, just like it has no relevance with the prolific child sex abuse cases involving Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Roman Catholic priests and the British political establishment. It came as no surprise, that the Rotherham child abuse report was used by the mainstream media and some politicians to jump on the racial/religious bandwagon. Like the high profile child grooming cases of last year involving Pakistani men from Rochdale, Derby and Oxford, commentators and journalists made the repetitive mistake of focussing on the ethnicity of the criminals, instead of concentrating on serious institutional flaws within the police force and local authorities.
If the issue of race has any importance to this discussion, it has to be directed towards South Yorkshire police and senior councillors who felt they couldn’t address this crime robustly without being labelled ‘racists‘. Professor Jay stated that a third of the 1,400 victims were already known to social services for neglect or sexual abuse. The report went on to explain how council staff in child protection services and police officers feared being labelled racist for highlighting the ethnicity of the perpetrators. This was a gross mistake made by the local authorities and the police force, whose sensitive tip-toeing strategy resulted in the irreparable damage caused to so many young girls. To assume that a particular community would react negatively, and would immediately draw for the ‘racist card’ when approached about child grooming is a racist mindset in itself! Why should the Pakistani/Asian community be treated any different to the white Caucasian, African Caribbean or any other community when tackling crimes in general, whether it is gang violence, terrorism, robbery or sexual grooming?
The report specifically mentioned that majority of the perpetrators were Pakistani men and the victims were white girls, that is not to say that Asian girls weren’t affected by this either. As highlighted in the police reports from the Rochdale sexual grooming case, Asian girls were reluctant to come forward and report these crimes to avoid bringing ‘shame’ and ‘dishonour’ to their families. Another narrative that has been repeated by politicians and journalists alike is the supposed cultural misogyny amongst Pakistani men, and their attitudes towards white women. I was asked yesterday by a BBC presenter on Three Counties Radio whether Pakistani men were “idolised by their families”, therefore exempt from wrongdoing and accountability. I had to stress that this cultural assumption cannot be the default position in trying to understand the motive behind sexual predators. If an attitude of denial and ignorance does exist within some Pakistani families, then it is something that definitely needs addressing.
Britain’s sexualised society
I think it’s time for Britain as a nation, irrelevant of ethnicity or creed, to take a long hard look at itself and ask – what is the fundamental cause of sex crimes? Is there one? In a society where rappers make millions from songs referring to women as “bitches” and “whores”; the celebrity lifestyle of sex, drugs and partying is glamourised; the freedom to ‘look but you can’t touch’ is evident in any street or town centre when a woman walks pass a group of males; the never-ending use of sexual innuendos in all mediums of entertainment; pornography rife amongst males over a wide age spectrum; and the fact that movie trailers have to include a flash of cleavage or rear from a ‘smoking hot’ actress is indicative that boys and men are constantly reminded of sex. Cocktailed with an individualistic attitude and a constant desire for more, which is perpetuated in a capitalist climate, it’s an inevitable recipe for sexual disasters.
Labour politician, Dianne Abbot said last year that British culture and society is becoming extremely “pornified“. I think it would be fair to say that rapists and paedophiles of all ages and colours are consumed by the ‘freedoms’ in a hyper-sexualised capitalist society, where women are marketed as sexual objects to sell anything from chocolates to cat food.
This article was first published in the Huffington Post.