Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Asian Grooming Gang Myth

 A powerful racial myth has been exposed.  A Home Office report has concluded that there is no credible evidence that any one ethnic group is over-represented in cases of child sexual exploitation.

For many in Britain today the term “grooming gang” immediately suggests Pakistani-heritage Muslim men abusing white girls. What started as a far-right trope had migrated into the mainstream, meeting little resistance along the way. The racial stereotype gained credence and the “grooming gangs” narrative fed into the agenda of the far right, but it was not only there that the issue was racialised

But Home Office researchers now tell us that “research has found that group-based offenders are most commonly White”. The two-year study by the Home Office makes very clear that there are no grounds for asserting that Muslim or Pakistani-heritage men are disproportionately engaged in such crimes. The horrific and widely reported crimes committed in places such as Rochdale, Oxford and Telford were real: but racist stereotyping and demonisation deflected from that. The report reveals that there was discord in its advisory group of experts, campaigners and others. Some members apparently wanted an even greater focus on Pakistani men, hinting at an appetite for producing policy-led evidence rather than evidence-led policy.

The claims that “grooming gangs” were not properly investigated due to “political correctness” and a fear of being accused of racism are heavily undermined by decades of research highlighting the consistent over-policing of minority communities. What’s more, the whole history of the UK’s responses to child sexual exploitation and abuse is littered with failings – as shown by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, Operation Yewtree and numerous other investigations and inquiries. There were also regrettable consequences for child protection, since victims and offenders who don’t fit the stereotype can be overlooked.

This misdirected focus can be found in the Home Office report itself. Its title and executive summary both imply it covers “group-based child sexual exploitation” in the whole. But it fails to include a whole range of problems that might reasonably fit into that category, such as abuse that occurs online, and in schools, care homes and other institutions. Instead, it follows the crowd by dwelling on child sexual exploitation “in the community”. This construct is vaguely defined and poorly justified, although certainly more acceptable sounding than “grooming gangs” – the broadly equivalent term that has no legal meaning but plenty of racial and political baggage.

Child sexual abuse is not a “Muslim problem” but is endemic to virtually all communities. Look at the numbers: the sheer scale makes the ubiquity of abuse inevitable.

 An estimated one in 13 adults in England has been sexually abused as children. In 2019/20, police across the UK recorded more than 73,518 sexual offences against children, and the Home Office review itself reminds us that only around one in 10 victims actually disclose child sexual abuse to an official at the time.

The common denominator is not immigration, race, culture or Islam. Child sexual abuse is the product of a complex interplay of patriarchy, power, exploitation, opportunity and disregard for children. The past decade has shown that too many people in power are insufficiently concerned when sexual abusers are not from Asian or Muslim backgrounds.

A new Home Office report admits grooming gangs are not a ‘Muslim problem' | Child protection | The Guardian

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