British Muslim groups urge Home Secretary to withdraw 'racially charged rhetoric' surrounding grooming gangs
Suella Braverman received widespread backlash last week when she told Sky News that English girls were being "pursued, raped, drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men". She said these men hold values "at odds" with those of other Britons.
The Muslim Council of Britain - alongside opposition politicians, medical bodies and businesses - slammed the hardline Conservative politician for deliberately singling out Pakistani communities, and for failing to acknowledge that the majority of child sexual exploitation is perpetrated by white males under the age of 30.
STATEMENT: MCB joins in calling for Home Secretary to withdraw divisive grooming gang comments— MCB (@MuslimCouncil) April 11, 2023
In 2020, Home Office research found that the vast majority of perpetrators of group-based child sexual exploitation (CSE) were white men under the age of 30🧵👇https://t.co/m0kjyXNX1E
"The Government would do well to adhere to the facts of the matter," said Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General Muslim Council of Britain.
Officials should "focus their energies on affording resources to local authorities so they can provide robust services and support for vulnerable young people and survivors and improve reporting and prosecution outcomes for such abhorrent crimes," Mohammed said.
There have been a number of high-profile child sexual exploitation cases in cities in the north of England, including Rotherham, Telford, Oldham and Newcastle, where men of Pakistani descent were charged with systematically abusing young girls.
However, a Home Office report from 2020 concluded that there was no evidence of any one ethnic group being overrepresented in cases of child exploitation in the UK.
Chair of the British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association Dr Shahid Latif, who signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemning Braverman, said: "What we would like immediately... a withdrawal of this statement.
"There is no other way about this, and the PM needs to come out and separate himself from these comments, he must realise these comments cause nothing but division."
Despite the backlash, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has defended Braverman's choice of language.
Sunak said inquiries into grooming gangs made up of British Pakistanis in Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford showed victims were ignored because people did not want to be "culturally insensitive".
Sunak’s government has adopted a hardline stance when it comes to organised crime in the UK, deploying language surrounding issues such as migration that critics say is racialised and populist.
The Tory government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, allegedly to stamp out organised crime, is among the most contentious of their policies. The plan involves automatically sending asylum seekers who arrive via 'irregular routes' such as small boats to the African nation.
Refugee charities said the scheme will only penalise the most vulnerable and create a tiered migration system, favouring Ukrainians for example over those coming from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.