Children have been sexually assaulted and harassed during a month-long spike of male violence against women and girls in north London’s Jewish community, a leading rabbi has said.
There have been at least seven incidents in Stamford Hill in the last few weeks, according to Herschel Gluck, who is chair of the area’s neighbourhood watch group Shomrim.
The most recent attack saw a pregnant woman repeatedly punched after having a pillowcase put over her head.
The 20-year-old victim, who was around 27 weeks pregnant at the time, was treated for minor injuries and left “traumatised” by the incident.
A man arrested on suspicion of GBH has since been released under investigation and admitted to a mental health facility. Police say the attack last week is not believed to be linked to others.
Gluck says it is part of a “substantial spike” in attacks on women and girls in the area, which is home to the largest Charedi community in Europe with more than 30,000 people.
“This sharp increase has only occurred regarding such attacks on Jewish women and girls,” he told HuffPost UK.
“It’s a very difficult one to say why it’s happening but it should set off alarm bells if society truly cares about women and girls and their safety and right to walk the streets without fear and feeling that they are unsafe spaces.”
Describing the nature of the incidents, which were all reported to police, Gluck added: “It has involved women being harassed. Pushing them down, pushing them against the wall and touching their private parts.
“There was a case with one young girl where a man came up to her and took out his member and said: ‘Have you seen one of these?’.
“It’s tragically happening to women and young girls, even little girls.
“This certainly shouldn’t be happening in the first place. We need more police on the streets, more visible police patrols on the streets.”
Police say they have been conducting patrols in Stamford Hill to provide reassurance to the community following the most recent attack.
Commenting on that incident, local policing commander detective chief superintendent Marcus Barnett said: “I know such assaults are very concerning, but please be assured, whilst such incidents are thankfully rare, they are taken very seriously indeed and my officers do everything they possibly can to bring offenders to justice and keeping you – our community – safe.”