I have worked in the field of child protection for a very a long time now, and over 10 years ago I was first told of the problem of Asian Pakistani men targeting white teenage girls for sexual exploitation.
I accept that determining specific race and culture is difficult, and that is why I use the term Asian Pakistani men, as a broad generic term.
In 2003 Charlene Downeshttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/3233800.stm, aged 14 years went missing and as part of the investigation a significant issue was identified of young white girls being exploited and trafficked for sex. The investigation around Charlene's disappearance centred around fast food outlets in Blackpool mainly run by Asian staff. It identified that young white girls were offered food, alcohol and cigarettes in return for sexual favours.
Two people were arrested and tried, before being acquitted, the investigation did identify that possibly as many as 60 young teenage girls had been exploited for sexual abuse and trafficking.
So moving forward nine years to the cases last week of the nine men convicted in Rochdale for targeting and sexually exploiting and trafficking teenage white girls. They targeted vulnerable white teenage girls mostly from broken homes, who would hang around fast food takeaway outlets late at night, befriending the staff there. They girls were plied with drugs, alcohol, food and gifts. Some of the men paid them to be introduced to younger girls and they were "shared" among other men, possible as many as 45.
Notice the similarities with 2003 - so the recent case comes as no surprise to me. It was only a matter of time.
For far too long now political correctness and racial sensitivities have prevented people from speaking out. I know from first hand experience speaking with social workers, police officers, and voluntary organisations, just how difficult it has been to get anyone to listen and discuss the issue.
I understand why senior police officers, MP's and senior Government officials have not taken the bold step to raise this significant issue, because it has the ability to raise racial tension and play straight into the hands of the BNP and other far right organisations. But all the while this fear of speaking out is present, the significant issue of the sexual exploitation and trafficking of white teenage girls by Asian Pakistani men goes on ignored, and in a way becomes ' accepted'.
So where is the evidence that Asian Pakistani men are targeting white teenage girls. Well the data collected is very poor - because no specific offence relates to this type of offending behaviour and as such the police statistics are not accurate or clear. The figures quoted by police forces have been so contradictory, because only a manual search of all reported child sex offences is going to give you the MO (modus operandi ) that will tell you is this on street offending, compared to online offending.
Furthermore the way these crimes are being labelled as 'Street Grooming' is both confusing and inaccurate. We should not be calling this street grooming - this is in many cases the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation. Grooming is the process child sex offenders use to target children and is present in almost all of cases of child sexual abuse. Furthermore a specific offence of grooming exists, created to combat sexual approaches to children on-line, an offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming. This makes it a crime to befriend a child on the Internet or by other means, and meet or intend to meet the child with the intention of abusing them. The maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment.
I am all in favour of a new law which specifically tackles street sexual exploitation, but until one exists we should be referring to these cases as either: On street child sexual exploitation or child sex trafficking.
Across the board, when all child sex offences are taken into consideration, overwhelmingly the offenders are white. But those quoting this are missing the point. What we are talking about here is specific offending behaviour, which is affecting predominately the North of England, which relates to on street child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
When we look at the specific offence we see the true scale of the problem. Of the 18 on street child sexual exploitation trials since 1997 these have been in Derby, Blackpool, Leeds, Rotherham, Blackburn, , Sheffield, Oldham and Rochdale ,and the majority of those convicted were of Pakistani heritage. Furthermore, of the 68 most recent convictions involving on street child sexual exploitation, 59 were Pakistani men.
Let me be very clear the issue of white teenage girls being sexually exploited and in many cases trafficked is small in comparison to the overall scale of child sexual abuse. We also know that predominantly the child sex offender in the UK is white.
That said it is clear that a problem does exist with Asian Pakistani males targeting white teenagers girls in certain communities. We therefore need to look at this as a more regional and local issue and open up good clear debate to make changes, and address the issues that are making white young girls such easy prey.
So the time has come to engage in debate and conversation as to why predominantly Asian Pakistani males are targeting white teenage girls in this very specific offence. For far too long people have been scared to speak up for fear of being called racists, or playing into the hands of the far right. However If we maintain the stance that this is not a problem, ignoring the very evidence that exists when the facts are properly considered , then nothing will change and white teenage girls will continue to be easy prey.
I have heard too many senior police officers, politicians, and children's organisations say that the issue of Asian Pakistani males targeting white teenage girls is not a problem. Well evidence says it is and to ignore the clear evidence that exists, is yet again to do no more that bury ones head in the sand and leave the stone unturned, until the next time a case craws out from underneath.
Put simply, 'Deny that it exists and there is no need to do anything about it, accept that a problem exists and you have to do something about it'. And therein lies your answer why so many senior officials are not prepared to accept we have a problem.
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