The Muslim Women’s Network UK has released a report which finds that Asian/Muslim girls are being sexuallly groomed by Asian/Muslim men.
The main findings of the report are:
– Asian/Muslim females are vulnerable to grooming and sexual exploitation and are being targeted and sexually exploited. These victims include children, young persons and adults.
– Asian/Muslim females are most vulnerable to offenders from their own communities as the overwhelming majority of the offenders are from the same background.
– The victims’ culture is being exploited and constitutes a barrier to disclosure and reporting.
The report’s findings were based on unfunded research of 35 cases over a five month period. The investigation mainly focused on case studies of Muslim children and young women from an Asian background.
In the report The Muslim Women’s Network called on the government to develop a national plan to counter child sexual exploitation, and for the local and national authortites to raise awarerness about the issue and take action where necessary.
The report said: “Child sexual exploitation is clearly a complex and widespread issue that is not limited to one community. However, the media and public attention has mainly focused on white British female victims of sexual exploitation and Asian offenders, suggesting that that the motivating factors behind such cases of abuse are to do with race, faith and ethnic culture.
“We were concerned that this paradigm ignores the reality that sexual predators, regardless of their ethno-cultural or religious background, will target the most vulnerable and the most accessible children and young people.
“We were also concerned that the needs of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) victims of sexual exploitation and in this case Asian/Muslim girls would be neglected during the development and delivery of appropriate intervention and prevention measures because their voices are unheard.”
The report found that the overwhelming majority of victims were of Muslim faith with almost two-thirds of British Pakistani heritage.
The majority of girls being targeted were under 16 years old, mostly between 13 and 14 years old. Some case studies included accounts of young women over 16 who were not consenting to sex.
Many had underlying vulnerabilities, which increased their risk of being exploited. Examples included sexual abuse within the family; mental health problems including self harm; the witnessing or suffering of domestic violence;
disability; living in a dysfunctional family; and having strict or neglectful parents.
The long-term impacts of sexual exploitation and abuse included: mental health problems and feeling suicidal and self harming; post traumatic stress; health problems associated with drug and alcohol addictions; gynecological problems as a result of sexually transmitted infections and brutal rapes; unwanted pregnancy; living in fear; being isolated; and vulnerability to further abuse.
The report found that the offenders who had sexually exploited Asian/Muslim girls in the case studies came from the following backgrounds: Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Afghani, and white.
Nearly two thirds of victims were of Pakistani background and in most of these cases the offenders were also Pakistani, even though in some cases offenders from other ethnic backgrounds were also involved.
In cases involving Bangladeshi victims, the offenders were mainly Bangladeshi. In one case, a girl of mixed white-Asian heritage was groomed by a man also of mixed White-Asian heritage before being passed around to Pakistani men.
However, there were some exceptions to this rule. For example, a Somalian girl was abused by Afghani and Pakistani men; a Pakistani girl was raped by an Indian Sikh man; and a Bangladeshi girl was abused by Pakistani men.
According to the report: “offenders do not respect girls or women of any race or faith. It is about vulnerability and exploitation of that vulnerability. It also appears that girls from offenders’ own backgrounds are more accessible because of their shared heritage, culture, faith and ethnicity.
“The offenders varied in age from 15 year old school boys to pensioners aged 60 plus. They also included visibily observant men, respected members of the community, men connected to the restaurant and takeaway business, students, British-born men as well as men from abroad, married and single men, taxi drivers and drug dealers.”
Nature of Sexual Exploitation
The research found that the sexual exploitation was often planned and organised rather than opportunistic.
Several different sexual exploitation models of grooming were observed. Younger men connected to schools and colleges, who were either pupils at the same school or had not long been out of the education system would groom girls before introducing them to older men.
The ”older boyfriend” followed a typical pattern of giving gifts and lots of attention. They also recognised that many of the girls were seeking escape from an often harsh, conservative and controlling environment and were purposefully exploiting these vulnerabilities through promises of love and marriage.
Secret Islamic marriage ceremonies also emerged as a method to ”trap” the victims. Other tactics used included: providing free access to also encouraged girls to run away from home. This included manipulating girls to contact women’s groups and the police and to report that they were in danger of a forced marriage or honour based violence so they would be found accommodation, making them more accessible to the offenders.
In some instances the victim was related to the perpetrator. A typical pattern observed was of the males outside the family. A few cases also involved online grooming.
The physical abuse included: oral, anal and vaginal rape; role play; insertion of objects into the vagina; severe beatings; burning with cigarettes; tying down; enacting rape that included ripping clothes off; and sexual activity via the webcam. Sometimes the victims were drugged to such an extent by alcohol and drugs that they were unaware of the extent of their abuse and of the different ways in which they were being violated or by how many men.
Shame, dishonour and fear were used to blackmail the victims; e.g. threats of circulating images and recordings of the victims. Other methods of manipulation and mental control exercised by the offenders included: building a close attachment which was used then to emotionally blackmail the victim, such as promises of marriage; issuing threats of violence towards the victim and family; creating dependency on drugs and alcohol; and manipulation so the girl or young person does not recognize she is a victim.
Call to action
The report concluded: “It was noticed that since the highly publicised prosecution cases involving Pakistani men in places such as Rochdale and Oxford, the debate on sex offending behaviour had started amongst some sections of the Pakistani and Muslim communities.
“However, this was taking place amongst activists and community organisations rather than the ordinary members of Asian and Muslim communities.
“Many of our informants felt that attitudes were mainly dismissive or disbelieving in relation to the issue of child sexual exploitation. Despite community attitudes and responses being criticised, most of those interviewed, particularly those from an Asian and Muslim background, strongly believed that community action was the best solution.”