Yesterday I travelled up to Oldham to facilitate and co-ordinate several meetings with women encouraging them to use their vote in the upcoming by-election.
However, on my way up I found myself reeling from the horror of the story revealed in The Times (£) on the sexual exploitation of young girls in the north of England, including the Oldham area. As well as the horror of the crime itself I am also thinking ‘Here we go again. The Muslim tag applied yet again and somehow people will bring it back to Islam’. Gosh. Why can’t people see that crimes are committed by people not religions?
Heinous as these crimes are, the Times has accorded it disproportionate space. I mean, a 5-page spread further creating, reinforcing, encouraging an image that Pakistani men are dangerous. If they are not terrorists blowing people up, they are terrorising our girls. How fair is it to label the Pakistani man even further. Does one particular group really deserve this based on the actions of a few?
What this also reveals, I am sad to say, is a tip of the iceberg, perhaps not just in the crime itself but what it says about our care system. What made it easy for these men to prey on these girls is numerous ranging from their own profession, the easy access to vulnerable girls as well as a view that, ‘well, these girls don’t have anyone watching over them’. Even if they did come from decent homes, the Western lifestyle meant that they would still be easily manipulated as there is less parental control. It is also another prod on the care system as to why these girls are being failed. ‘In care’ should mean in care.