Pakistani men targeting white girls: Hindu, Sikh groups in UK back MP
Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by Hindu, Sikh and Christian leaders for forcing his party MP Sarah Champion to resign from the shadow cabinet.Updated: Sep 06, 2017 14:45 IST
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was on Tuesday accused of a “weak response” by a group of Hindu, Sikh and Christian leaders for forcing his party MP Sarah Champion to resign from the shadow cabinet after she singled out men from the Pakistani community who target white girls for sexual abuse.
The row characterised by themes of political correctness and racism escalated following another string of convictions in August, when 17 men and a woman, mostly of Pakistani-origin, were convicted in Newcastle for abusing girls who were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to have sex.
The groups backed Champion’s stand in a letter to The Times on Tuesday. The letter was signed by representatives of groups such as the Network of Sikh Organisations, Hindu Council UK, British Pakistani Christian Association and the National Council of Hindu Temples.
They wrote: “We commend Sarah Champion and the Muslim councillor Amina Lone for speaking up on a clear trend in criminality: the conviction of men of largely Pakistani Muslim heritage in sexual-grooming cases.”
The letter added, “However, it’s not just white girls who fall victim. For decades Hindu, Sikh and Christian organisations have raised concerns about grooming gangs. The latter have plagued our communities, so much so that a BBC documentary on the targeting of Sikhs was aired a few years ago. The common denominator is that victims almost always tend to be non-Muslim girls.”
Champion’s article on the subject in The Sun on August 10 found support from a Pakistani-origin cabinet minister in the Theresa May government, Sajid Javid, who said Corbyn was wrong to sack her from his shadow cabinet.
Champion had written: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?
“For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”
The letter by the Hindu, Sikh and Christian groups expressed dismay at what they called the Labour leadership’s “weak response”. The groups said they were not willing to see the betrayal of victims, “who are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness”.
“It’s not racist or Islamophobic to raise a matter of significant public concern. Smearing those speaking an inconvenient truth is unacceptable. Champion is undoubtedly right that we cannot ignore the race of the perpetrators, but neither can we ignore the fact that victims of sexual grooming gangs are almost always non-Muslim,” the letter added.
Responding to the letter, a spokesman for Corbyn said: “Sexual abuse is an extremely serious crime that requires effective action to tackle it. To do so, we must focus on the perpetrators and how we can prevent grooming of women and girls.
“These heinous crimes are committed by people of all backgrounds. Stigmatising entire communities is wrong, and damages the interests of victims of sexual abuse and the rigorous investigation into the underlying causes of that abuse.”
There are also allegations of grooming gangs exploiting Asian girls. Labour MP Preet Gill told Eastern Eye, a leading British Asian publication, that Asian girls were being exploited across Britain but victims were afraid to report it to authorities and seek justice because they fear for their safety and concerns over bringing shame to their families.
First Published: Sep 05, 2017 19:39 IST