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Our discussions on Child Grooming are dehumanising

Concentrating on race and culture also ignores the social context in which these crimes were conducted

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Writing in the Telegraph recently, Allison Pearson argued that "we will regret ignoring Asian thugs who target white girls". In response to the recent case involving a child trafficking ring in Oxford, comprised of men with Pakistani origins, she argued that so long as we feared discussing issues of race, particularly in south Asian Muslim communities, we would fail even more vulnerable Caucasian girls.

While I believe that Pearson's intentions were amiable, it is unfortunate that her analysis, along with many other commentators, politicians and think-tank extraordinaires, continues to perpetuate a simplified, politically-charged narrative that does little to understand cases of child grooming and trafficking. Instead, she attributes the actions of the gang to be consequences of their culture and religious values, which supposedly provide a justification for the mistreatment of women. Just like that, a case involving seven despicable men transforms into a cultural behemoth questioning the roles and responsibilities of Islamic communities in Britain, rather than the failure of our public institutions to address serious crimes.

This is not the first time such a rhetorical metamorphosis has taken place; when two men in Derby were arrested for sexually abusing minors in 2011, former Home Secretary, Jack Straw, suggested that some Pakistani men viewed young white girls as "easy meat". In a similar case in Rochdale last year, Baroness Warsi made the case that some Pakistani men saw white women as "fair game".

The problem with this analysis lies in that it disregards both the victims and perpetrators. Preoccupation with samples of aggregate statistics, combined with hyping up suspicions of insular, ethnic communities does little to present an accurate context for these crimes. On a statistical level, a report for the Children's Commissioner showed that despite 'Asians' being accountable for over 40 per cent of grooming cases, less than 10 per cent of this section was attributed to Pakistani origin men. Additionally, the data used in the report only analysed a third of recorded cases- not the best foundation upon which to absolute statements.

Concentrating on race and culture also ignores the social context in which these crimes were conducted. If we should question the race and religious contributions of the perpetrators, are not the social conditions which lured the young girls to the gangs also an area of legitimate enquiry? If we come to the conclusion that South Asian culture or the Muslim religion were a root cause of the gang's actions, why aren't commentators like Pearson also criticising the environments that foster vulnerability- whether it be lack of support networks, the absence of a familial presence, or the lack of social mobility in the economically depraved areas many of these victims come from? Indeed, a question that seems to be absent in this discussion is why these types of environments which allow criminals to thrive, are even allowed to exist at all.

Whether it's directly attributing the crimes of child grooming gangs to "Asian culture", or a hybrid of social phenomena, debates on the wider context of these cases are endless. More importantly, they are unhelpful in the short term. In the shadows of these arbitrary discussions are the victims of sexual abuse, who, without a voice, are often appropriated to fulfill the agendas of commentators and politicians. At the same time, such discussions also allow the perpetrators to get off easy; instead of acknowledging them as criminals, they become representative of larger Pakistani communities, regardless of the latter's lack of involvement.

Framing our debates about child grooming gangs in racial and cultural terms not only reduces the role played by those that exploit children- they also treat the victims of sexual abuse with just as much contempt.

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2 Comment

MissedThePoint Posted on Wednesday 30 Sep 2020

Whilst race does not necessarily mean a group are more likely to abuse children/teenagers than another thats not the point being made. The problem is the accusations about this group and others made to the police was often ignored on the grounds of it being very politically sensitive to investigate and the very fact that people like you would use the racism card as soon as revelations were made. Its like the minorities fail safe mechanism, if any criticism is made of them then the perpetrator must be a racist. The reality in this case is simple, and cultural links cannot be ignored. These men are exploiting the fact that white girls or at least women in western culture are a lot more easy to get in bed than in other cultures. They certainly wouldn't of tried their luck trying to groom Muslim women, it probably would have been a failure from the start, hence the comment white women are "easy meat" (by comparison). Whether or not they had other ideologies in these crimes in these crimes other than easy sex is unknown and will probably remain so. Its time to ignore minorities sensitivities and protests that they are being picked on and deal with crimes as they should be.

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@Missedthepoint Posted on Wednesday 30 Sep 2020

You seem to contradict your first sentence incredibly. One the one hand your saying 'race isnt a determining factor' while on the other you're claiming that I'm playing a race card. Both of which are quite odd, considering that I have acknowledged the disproportionate number, I question how a number of white, upper middle class politicians and journalists attempt to analyse a cultural problem beyond their own scope.

While the journalist mentioned didnt say it overtly, many have made ridiculous claims concerning asian child abusers- things like 'They do it because it justifies it in the Qu'ran" , or "they are doing it because they hate white people" etc. I think the analysis is sloppy, and it disregards the fact that these asian men are likely to prey on any vulnerable girl they can find- it just happens that a lot of them are White English. What if I said that's a cultural problem that exists in the "white community"? It would also be ridiculous analysis, and sloppy journalism.

As for the 'political correctness gone mad' card, I don't see any evidence of minority groups such as the Pakistani community actually condoning what's going on in these Kebab shops and other establishments. From past studies, its actually clear that many of their families and community elders don't even know what's going on. In addition, you only have to youtube the number of Imams and Islamic spokespeople who have acutely condemned the acts of these paedophile gangs. Look at the backgrounds of these men, and you'll find that most come from fairly dodgy backgrounds, and are far from 'assimilated' into traditional Pakistani or south Asian culture. It's this disregard for differences, and the treatment of such men as homogenized groups, that are dehumanising.

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