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Taking steps to tackle sexual grooming


sexual grooming ‘If we ignore patterns we’re going to do an injustice to the victims.’

Following the recent conviction of seven Muslim men involved in grooming and sex trafficking girls as young as 11 in Oxford, next month imans across Britain are to give simultaneous sermons condemning sexual grooming.

This is in support of a Muslim-led coalition set up to tackle sexual grooming problems by gangs on England’s streets and the issue of abuse.

This synchronised event, due to take place on 28 June,will follow a conference set up by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to discuss ways of preventing further cases of abuse.

Amsar Ali, 50, co-founder of the Facebook group ‘Together Against Grooming’, and co-ordinator of Muslim efforts against sex gangs, said: “We’re asking [mosques] to devote their khutba [sermon] to this issue on the last Friday in June.”

And Julie Siddiqi, 41, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, one of Britain’s largest Muslim organisations, has appealled for street-grooming gangs in England to be exposed and eradicated.

“Child exploitation is a crime which affects all communities but the number of street-grooming convictions in the past few years involving Omars, Ahmeds and Faisals means the time has come for action,” she said.

“I assumed other people were dealing with it more than they perhaps were,” she added.

“I’m not sure the Muslim community’s response has been good enough. The MCB need to accept that they haven’t done enough.”

Siddiqi, who converted to Islam in 1995, helped launch the Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) recently, which aims to ensure that the subject is not hijacked by far-right groups.

“The BNP and the EDL have been campaigning on this issue for the last two years.

“They’ve been saying openly ‘look at these horrible Muslims and what they do to our white girls.’ The most dangerous thing is for us to allow a vacuum to be created so their voice fills it,” she said.

“But if there are patterns emerging – and I think there are – of people from a certain background engaging in this type of activity, then that can’t be ignored either.

“I’m not saying all Pakistani men are prone to this, or Islam says that; of course that’s nonsense.

“But if we ignore these patterns we’re going to do an injustice against the victims.”

“I think possibly some of the men in the community are finding it harder because I’m a woman, regardless of whether I’m white or not.

“But once people have got over the fact that we’re talking about this in an open way, maybe they also feel that I have a role to play because of my background because I can maybe understand aspects of this differently to others.”

“Our community structures are too male-heavy, there’s no doubt about that”, she said. “People need to realise why that’s not helpful.”

A briefing paper on grooming was published in July and a fuller report four months later, reflecting on the high-profile court cases that have “mainly involved adult males of British Pakistani origin and white British female victims”, the BBC reported recently.

The reason for the spate of similar cases, this inquiry suggested, was that police and other agencies responded to publicity around previous trials by investigating whether the same problem existed in their area.

The authorities were indeed “effective in readily identifying perpetrators and victims with similar individual characteristics”, the inquiry panel concluded.

“Data is gathered more assiduously on perpetrators identified by professionals as Asian, Pakistani or Kurdish,” the report asserted.

But the focus on one particular type of perpetrator, model and approach to child sexual exploitation, disguised “a much more difficult and challenging truth”.

The abusers “come from all ethnic groups and so do their victims – contrary to what some may wish to believe”, the inquiry panel said.

“The failure of agencies to recognise this means that too many child victims are not getting the protection and support they so desperately need.”

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