Sex, sexual exploitation and Pakistani men – In response to Ajmal Masroor

It’s not often that I’m exercised enough about something that I feel compelled to write more than 140 characters on the subject. Yesterday morning I read a lengthy tract by Ajmal Masroor on the issue of sex, sexual exploitation and Pakistani men – it was probably in response to Tuesday’s news of the conviction of seven men in Oxford in the latest prosecution of sexual exploitation of young, vulnerable girls. The post was entitled ‘Sex grooming – whats (sic) gone wrong with Pakistani men?’ After a wave of criticism, the original post (the link is to a screenshot of the now-deleted post) was removed, edited, and reposted. But the gist of it remained the same – he simply added more brown people to have a go at.

No-one should question the severity of their crimes: abusing and exploiting some of the most vulnerable members of society. These men, and others like them, took advantage of young girls who had been otherwise abandoned and rejected by society.

Questions need to be, and are being, asked of the agencies with statutory responsibilities – local authority social services and police forces – and those people who failed these young girls also need to be held to account. No expense should be spare in providing the victims the support they need and measures need to be put in place to ensure other vulnerable young people never have to suffer as they did.

Back to Masroor’s post. He makes a number of assertions in his post that I profoundly disagree with.

First of all, Pakistani men are no more predisposed to sexually exploiting young girls than men of any other ethnic origin. The reason we’re hearing so much about these specific cases is because they fit with a particular narrative which needs to evoke images of dusky savages in order to be maintained. The Muslim community in the UK has been under unrelenting attack – in the political sphere and in the media – for a number of years now. This focus on the religion and ethnicity of the offenders is only a continuation of those attacks. It’s no coincidence that at a time when Muslims are under such sustained attack by the media and the state, so much more attention is paid to heinous crimes, whether that be terrorism or sexual abuse of children, when the perpetrators are brown and Muslim.

Why was there so little coverage of the case in Derby in 2012, where seven out of the eight men were white? As recently expressed by Joesph Harker, why were there no calls for the ‘white community’ to engage in some soul searching, to ascertain what it is about white culture or their religion that leads to them acting in such a despicable way?

This isn’t an issue of ethnicity or religion – this is an issue of a group of men exploiting vulnerabilities in young girl in order to abuse them for their own sexual gratification. It happens in all ethnicities and religions; just have a look at those who’ve been arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the Metropolitan Police Services investigation into historic allegations of sexual abuse, particularly of children. Jimmy Savile was neither Pakistani nor Muslim. Which papers have referenced Savile’s religion when writing about the prolific abuse he was engaged in? I don’t think Gary Glitter will be taking the Muslim declaration of faith any time soon.


Figures

Masroor claims that

“the reality is that more than 80% of those found guilty of sex grooming and exploitation of young girls have Pakistani ethnic origin.”

Let me be absolutely clear – that figure is wrong. In fact, it’s so wrong that it’s worth repeating – that figure is just not true. I don’t know where it came from as it’s not referenced in his post, but the figures I’ve come across from a simple Google search suggest otherwise and, in fact, show a significant divergence from the figure he’s reporting.

The Ministry of Justice reported that 8% of those convicted of sex offences in 2010 were Asian. I didn’t miss a zero off – the figure is eight percent. That figure relates to a wide-range of offences – ranging from sexual assaults, rape and other crimes, against both adults and minors, that are classified as sex offences.

The closest figures we can find to test Masroor’s specific claim – relating to sex grooming and exploitation – come from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) report ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight‘. Their research identified that of those individuals who were reported to them as “possible offenders in relation to street grooming and child sexual exploitation”, and about whom information was available, 28% were identified as Asian. This covers people of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian origin.

The CEOP, in their report, were at pains to stress that no conclusions could be drawn from those figures as they were incomplete and the standard of data collection was inconsistent and poor – they drew the data from limited geographical areas where local agencies had been proactive in collecting data and there had been substantial police investigations. If the data came solely or predominantly from areas with large Asian populations, that might explain the over-representation of Asian people in those figures. The report also suggests that “an unconscious bias among agency responses” might account for the larger number of Asian people in the figures. And let’s face it, the Police and other agencies don’t exactly have a noble history when it comes to their treatment of Black and Asian people.


Justice

So where did Masroor get his 80% figure from? And why am I banging this particular drum? Surely the main thing to do right now is to get justice for the victims and ensure we never allow things like this to happen again? Yes, the victims need justice but the record also needs to be set straight before we condemn 1.2 million people of Pakistani ethnicity, or the 4.2m who describe themselves as Asian.

The danger of this kind of thinking is evident in the evolution of Masroor’s post. He started off this morning simply talking about the depravity of Pakistani men. But clearly stung by criticism, he later rewrote his post to also aim his fire at Arabs and Bangladeshis – with a nod to white sex offenders, a group entirely missing from his initial post. He still reserved his worst for the Pakistani community. The point here is, he’s still wrong.

It doesn’t help when people in positions of influence, with a platform and a pulpit (literally in this case), resort to the same smears and damaging assertions that feeds today’s undercurrent of racism and Islamophobia.

We all need to take a stand against the exploitation of young people – if we make it into an issue of race or religion, we’re turning it into something it’s not. And we give succour to the EDL and their ilk who squeal with delight every time a Muslim is convicted of a crime, especially of this nature. The idea that hordes of Muslims are dangerous child abusers is their narrative, we mustn’t let it becomes ours.

As a community, we can stand up to the sexual exploitation of young people without feeding into the racist and Islamophobic narrative that has gripped this country. In fact, I would urge Ajmal Masroor to do just that. Don’t give in to the nonsense about Asians and Muslims being worse that other ethnic or religious groups, stand up and defend your community against the racism that’s showing no sign of relenting and leaving many young Muslims angry and alienated.

Last modified on Friday, 17 May 2013 19:10

Login to post comments