The legacy of UK's Pakistani Muslim predators
Will the British Pakistani community now be targeted for crimes committed by these sexual offenders?
On May 8, 2012, nine men, of whom eight were of Pakistani background, were convicted at Liverpool Crown Court for a range of offences including trafficking within the UK, rape, sexual assault and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. They were part of a gang who had groomed vulnerable young girls in and around Rochdale, Greater Manchester. They were given prison sentences ranging from 4 to 19 years.
Two distinct themes emerged from this trial; firstly, the perpetrators were by and large men of Pakistani heritage and the victims were young white women. On its own, there is nothing extraordinary about this.
However, in 2010, in separate trials held in Derby and Rotherham, some 14 men, overwhelmingly of Pakistani origin, were convicted of a catalogue of sexual offences against vulnerable girls, young white women - with some as young as 12 - who were groomed and sexually abused. In 18 child sexual exploitation trials since 1997 - in Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Rotherham, Sheffield, Rochdale, Oldham and Birmingham - relating to street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16 involving two or more men, most of those convicted were of Pakistani heritage.
Whilst these particular trials dealt with Pakistani perpetrators and white victims, it is both inappropriate and incorrect to extrapolate from it the conclusion that all sexual offences of this type are committed by Pakistani men. For example, through the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), the government concluded after investigation that of known suspects since 2008:
38% were white
32% recorded as an unknown ethnicity
26% were Asian
3% were African American
less than 1% Chinese
However, as 2.1% of UK population is of Indian or Pakistani origin (2001 census), it is beyond dispute that that group is disproportionately represented.
While detectives and prosecutors in the Rochdale case were at pains to point out that the men had not chosen the girls because of their colour, the judge in question left no room for doubt when he said,
Some of you acted as you did to satiate your lust, some to make money. All of you treated them as they were worthless and beyond all respect. I believe one of the factors that led to that was that they were not of your community or religion.
These trials and subsequent convictions have created an environment in which many and varied views have come to the fore with some being reasonable and some outlandish. They vary from there being a conspiracy of silence amongst the Pakistani community who, it is thought, would and should have known what was going on but chose to remain silent; the police, prosecution service and other child protection agencies being accused of being more concerned with political correctness – in not being seen as racist - than investigating the matter further; Pakistani men viewing young white girls as “easy meat”; to the leader of the British National Party- an extreme racist party - Nick Griffin using the convictions as evidence of “Muslim paedophilia” whilst campaigning with atrocious slogans such as "our children are not halal meat”.
What is remarkable about the convicted men from Rochdale is the extent to which they were leading a seemingly normal life whilst committing such depraved acts.
Abdul Qayyum, a married father of two, was convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. He first started working as a taxi driver and set up his own business. He was so highly respected by Rochdale's Pakistani community that two local councillors provided references for him in which they had praised his hard work and how he had fully adapted to the British way of life.
Adil Khan, a married taxi driver, engaged in a sexual relationship with a girl just a few weeks after the birth of his first child. Abdul Rauff, a married Muslin preacher and taxi driver, was convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. This father of five chose to affirm that he would tell the truth rather than take an oath on the Quran.
The fact that British Pakistanis are represented at all within this type of offence is of great worry; the fact that they are disproportionately represented – 2.1% of population but 26% of offence committed – suggests an underlying cause that is difficult to explain and impossible to ignore.
Did these British Pakistanis set out to ensnare young white girls or was it more about convenience and accessibility?
The answer is not straightforward and one that may be uncomfortable for the British Pakistani community to accept. There is no doubt that a cultural stereotype played a part in the way these men groomed the young girls. They thought these girls were of lower moral value and not worthy of respect.
Equally, this was about exploitation of the vulnerable and weak. Nasir Afzal, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, and the main person responsible for bringing this prosecution, states:
It’s not race that defines (the perpetrators). It’s their attitude to women and young girls that defines them. It’s about men wanting to exert their power over young women.
Most of the victims were from damaged or dysfunctional backgrounds and susceptible to the traps of the groomers who would shower them with affection, attention and gifts. These girls were available in a way Asian teenagers are not – protected by the structure of family at night – and therefore vulnerable to such fiendish attacks.
The challenge for the British Pakistani community is to win the argument that these depraved acts are free of racial connotation and therefore cannot be used to target a single community. To do so runs the risk of disproportionate attention being paid to one community whilst leaving vulnerable girls open to exploitation by other men.
Read more by Sufiyan here.