In Britain’s ‘worst ever’ child grooming scandal, a Sunday Mirror investigation has revealed that hundreds of young girls in the town of Telford were beaten, raped and sold for sex. Despite repeated warnings, the authorities failed to act against the perpetrators and root out the abuse. According to Mirror, the grooming gangs have been operating in Telford since the 1980s. As many as a thousand girls are feared to have fallen prey to the gangs over the years. Similar heinous crimes had rocked Britain when organized sexual abuse of children, sometimes as young as 13, had emerged in Rotherham and Rochdale. Unfortunately, the establishment in Britain is still not prepared to prioritize the safety and security of their children over hurt sentiments of certain groups.
The distinguishing feature of grooming gangs is that almost always the accused are of British Pakistani heritage and the victims are almost always young white girls. Also, as Peter McLoughlin points out in his book, ‘Easy Meat’. Unlike other instances of sexual exploitation of children where the perpetrator operates alone and under high secrecy for fear of repercussions should his acquaintances discover his crimes, in these cases, perpetrators often belong to the same family and are either brother or cousins mostly. They are lured with drugs and alcohol and cannabis and after a period of systematic brainwashing which involves alienating them from their family and convincing them that their parents are racists, they are plied for sex. Often, the gangs use the victims themselves to get to their neighbours or their friends. Horrifyingly, the gangs even use pregnancy and forced abortions as forms of punishment.
The appalling aspect of these crimes perhaps is the refusal of the authorities to act sternly against the grooming gangs for fear of being labelled racist. The mother of a victim told The Times in 2007, “I was told by one police officer that he did not ‘want to start a race riot’ by arresting Pakistani men for sexual offences.” A report in 2013 in the Daily Mail mentions a victim who alleges she was left to her fate by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers because they were afraid of appearing racist. She said, “They didn’t want to acknowledge that it was Asian men hitting on white girls in case it started a race thing. It was uncomfortable for them. But it’s not racist if it’s really happening. I never wanted to be part of anyone’s agenda. I just wanted to be rescued.” Then Home Secretary, Theresa May, had blamed the local authorities for allowing ‘institutionalized political correctness’ to hamper their investigation of grooming gangs. Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell had also warned that research into the problem was being hampered by ‘political correctness and concerns about upsetting community cohesion’. Even the Mirror report on Telford mentions that the authorities failed to act because they feared to appear racist.
The investigation into the menace has proved to be problematic in more ways than one. In many cases, authorities perceived the victims to be consenting to the sex that was involved. For some reason, political correctness or whatever they may be, authorities often regarded the adolescents and their lifestyles as problematic and even took action against them while letting the adults they complained about get away completely without any action or investigation. A confidential report criticized the police for “in all cases” treating young victims “as deviant and promiscuous” while “the men they were found with were never questioned or investigated”. Rachel Loise, of the Coalition for Removal of Pimping (Crop), says, “The perpetrators are the last to be condemned. Prosecutions are rare, and sentencing is not severe enough.” Another issue is on many occasions even the victims do not perceive themselves to be such and under the law of the land, if a girl is 13 or over, then she has to make a complaint herself for the accused to be prosecuted. And the girls are often unwilling to come forward, many times because they are too scared. Also, the girls are threatened with dire consequences if they approach the police. The mother of a victim said that ‘Asian’ men have told her on the phone that they will petrol bomb her house if she sends the police to their place.
Another critical issue has been the unwillingness of the authorities to address the issue using proper terms in order to avoid appearing racist. Then MP for Keighley, Anne Cryer, blamed “Asian Culture” for the grooming gang epidemic although Hindus and Sikhs and Jains and Buddhists have never been associated with the phenomenon. In fact, it was the Sikhs who have been highlighting the phenomenon, as recorded by Peter McLoughlin in his book, when Sikh girls had fallen victims to the gangs. In 2012, a joint statement by the Network of Sikh Organizations UK, The Sikh Media Monitoring Group UK and The Hindu Forum condemned the blanket use of the term ‘Asian’ and said that it was unfair to other communities of Asian origin. It also asserted that the unwillingness of the media and the government to discuss the religious identity of the perpetrators was fueling the rise of far-right groups in the country. They further stated, “We believe that in this case, the government itself is sanctioning the use of term Asian as a way of clouding responsibility.”
In his book, ‘Easy Meat’, Peter McLoughlin records that Sikh groups were aware of the phenomenon and were trying to warn everyone before anyone else. Even last year, when Labour MP Sarah Champion was fired from Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet for calling out the ethnicity of the rapists and alleging that there had been attempts to cover it up for far too long. Hindu and Sikh organizations had commended the MP and the states that Hindu and Sikh girls were raped and groomed by the gangs for decades. Thus, calling the groups and the rapists “Asian” is a gross affront towards Hindus and Sikhs who have also suffered as a consequence of the authorities’ hesitation towards tackling the crime.
Britain’s refusal to confront the menace in an honest manner has allowed such grooming gangs to flourish with impunity for decades. After Rotherham and Rochdale, the grooming gangs have now been discovered to be operating in Bradford, Oxford, Newcastle, London, Leicester, it is really happening across the lengths and breadth of the country. And the denial of the authorities and the establishment to even acknowledge the existence of such a phenomenon and the deliberate obfuscation of the religious identity of the perpetrators have allowed them to flourish for decades. The only way to solve the menace and to protect the children is to tackle the issue head-on.
Quite obviously, there are lessons from the phenomenon in Britain for Indians too. We must not brush away the allegations of Love Jihad in haste without proper investigation into the matter. As India Today’s expose has revealed, the radical Islamic organization, Popular Front of India (PFI) has been involved in the brainwashing of Hindu and Christian women, converting them to Islam and marrying them off to Muslim men as part of a larger conspiracy to turn India into an Islamic theocratic state. Also, Indian parents must keep a closer eye on the behaviour of their daughters and their turning to drugs or alcohol should be an immediate red flag as it has been observed in Britain that the grooming gangs lure the children with drugs and alcohol at first before forcing them into prostitution. Our legal authorities must also consider the opinions of the parents more credible in such cases than the victims as it has been discovered in Britain that in many such cases, the victims develop some sort of a Stockholm Syndrome and do not perceive themselves as such and are often not willing to come forward and implicate their tormentors. Our children must not be sacrificed at the altar of political correctness and their safety and security should be awarded more prominence than any misguided ideal.
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.