When 20 men were convicted at the end of last week on charges of more than 120 child sex offences including rape, inciting child prostitution and abducting a child, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted:
“These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice. I want to commend the bravery of the victims. For too long, they were ignored. Not on my watch. There will be no no-go areas.”
He was immediately accused of racism for mentioning the ethnicity of these criminals. In fact, virtually all its members had a very specific ethnic and religious identity as men of Pakistani Muslim origin (the ringleader was said to have converted to Sikhism five years ago).
No matter. The Labour MP David Lammy said: “It does no service to the victims of this evil to pin the blame on any one group.” But those who maintain that the ethnic and/or religious identity of these criminals is irrelevant couldn’t be more wrong.
For this was but the latest in a series of criminal trials of men involved not just in sex offences but in a particular, and particularly odious, pattern of criminal activity which has claimed several thousand victims over a period over the past two decades.
This involves targeting specifically white girls, mainly young teenagers or pre-teens from the wrong side of the tracks, and luring them into situations where they are plied with drugs or alcohol and then raped, pimped, prostituted and treated as dehumanised sexual objects often by multiple men over several hours at a time.
This systematic abuse and violaton of so many young girls over such a long period of time was first exposed by my Times colleague Andrew Norfolk in 2011. Astoundingly, it had been ignored for years by police and welfare officials who had looked the other way. Some, particularly the police, dismissed these girls as white trash; the main reason, though, for ignoring what was happening was that these officials were frightened of being accused of racism if they did anything about it.
The latest convictions, following three linked trials at Leeds crown court, involved 15 child victims in the Huddersfield area. Other towns where these grooming gangs are known to have operated include Keighley, Bradford Rochdale, Peterborough, Newcastle, Oxford, Bristol and Telford.
These appalling offences involve anti-white racism. That is apparently unsayable. They also raise urgent questions about Muslim culture. That is even more unsayable. For although these men represent in their number a tiny minority of Pakistani Muslim-heritage men in Britain, this is not irrelevant. When such a strong pattern emerges in the background of the vast majority of those who commit a particular kind of crime, and over such a wide swathe of the country, it is essential to look at how that background may have contributed to that crime.
Yet for some, that is even more unsayable. Zubaida Haque, the deputy director of the Runnymede Trust, said: “It’s extraordinary that Sajid Javid set up an inquiry to look at why Asian men were more likely to be in CSE [child sexual exploitation] grooming gangs when his priority all the time should have been why and how victims were vulnerable and where safeguards had failed.”
What’s extraordinary is that such critics are so uninterested in the perpetrators. Just imagine if, say, gangs of white Jehovah’s Witnesses were targeting black or Asian girls up and down the country and raping, pimping and prostituting them. Can anyone doubt the media would be heaving with pieces denouncing the religion and culture of such people for producing such systemic, racist and abusive behaviour? Yet very few pieces have appeared about the grooming gangs, other than news reports.
Some very brave Muslims have spoken out about the disturbing implications of these activities for their community. They are ignored. Others who do speak up honestly about it find themselves victimised – and their plight ignored.
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, said there was “a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” in her constituency. For this, Muslim and Labour party activists branded her a bigot, an Islamophobe and a racist and there were calls for her to be expelled from the party. Of course.
To dismiss or ignore the cultural factors behind this pattern of appalling crimes, or worse to pillory those who raise them as “Islamophobic”, is to connive at the perpetuation of such abuse of young vulnerable girls.