UK

Asian Children Are Victims Of Grooming Too, 'Demolishing EDL Myth', Expert Says

10/09/2013 16:06 BST | Updated 10/09/2013 18:38 BST

The targeting of white girls by Asian paedophiles - which has fuelled the campaigns of the British National Party and English Defence League - has been "demolished" by new research, an expert has said.

New research has uncovered "chilling" abuse of Asian girls, usually from men from the same background.

The Muslim Women's Network UK, which carried out the study, said the grooming and exploitation would often go unreported.

"It's not driven by somebody's faith or their ethnicity, it's driven by men wanting to exploit vulnerable girls," said Akeela Ahmed, the former Chief Executive of the Muslim Youth Helpline, who now works for the Christian Muslim Forum.

child in care

Grooming is not confined to white children, a report says

"The EDL and other people of far-right tendencies use this myth [that just white children are targeted] to drive a wedge between communities.. what this does is really undermine all of that."

She told HuffPost UK: "I am hoping this will just demolish it and break it down."

The report said much of the abuse of Asian children went below social services' radar.

"Their shared background makes them accessible; they are more easily controlled due to their fear of dishonouring their family; and their involvement is less risky because they are unlikely to report their abuse because of the shame and honour factor," it said.

The report, Unheard Voices: the sexual exploitation of Asian girls and young women, uncovered 35 cases where young Asian girls said they had been abused.

In recent years, high-profile grooming cases in Rochdale and Rotherham have involved vulnerable white girls being abused by gangs of Asian men.

But Sue Berelowitz , the deputy Children's Commissioner, said it was a myth that "only white girls are victims of sexual exploitation by Asian or Muslim males as these men only abuse outside of their own community driven by hatred

and contempt for white females."

Berelowitz said she was "extremely concerned" by agencies' failure to look after the children.

She said: "The accounts, recorded faithfully in this report, make chilling reading. The stories of some of the victims are amongst the most shocking I have encountered and never again should anybody doubt that Asian and Muslim

children are not as at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation as other children."

Sadiq Khan, Labour's justice spokesman, said: "This timely research shows that sexual grooming is not about race but about vulnerability, the exploitation of that vulnerability and opportunism."