Rochdale Grooming: An Uncomfortable Truth
May 18, 2012
By: Z Khan
Earlier this month, a group of men of pakistani and one of afghani origin were convicted for sexual crimes including rape and sex trafficking. The media coverage of The Rochdale Case has caused a storm with many deploring the use of the generic word ‘Asian’ to describe the gang and the BNP’s Nick Griffin denouncing this as ‘Muslim Paedophilia’. But this is NOT a religious (Islam does not advocate rape or paedophilia) or racial issue; it is a cultural problem. What gives me the authority to say that? I am a British-Pakistani muslim.
Former home secretary Jack Straw was completely justified in stating that “We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way.”
It is unfortunate that in the 21st century, there is little or no gender equality in Pakistan. The adult literacy rate is only 56% and many men living in Pakistan are sexist. Amongst other things, I believe that cultural attitudes towards white women are partly to blame for the fact that these men only targeted vulnerable white girls. In Asia, and indeed in many other conservative non-western countries, the only exposure to western women many people get is through the TV, internet and the tourism trade. Sexually liberated and scantily clad western women in music videos, magazines and films help perpetuate the idea that all western women are ‘loose’, ‘easy’ or up for it.
Unfortunately, there are British born Pakistanis who also share these beliefs and I believe that parents and religious teachers are equally to blame for this. I have attended mosques where most of my teachers were born and attended religious institutions in Pakistan, and some of them did indeed hold these views about western women. We learnt how to read the Qur’an, how to pray and if our teachers had the time, 15 minutes of Islamic history on a Wednesday but we were not taught about gender or racial equality. If impressionable young children are being taught by people who harbour these views, we can only expect these attitudes towards western women to be perpetuated further.
Mohammed Shafiq of The Ramadhan Foundation has accused pakistani community leaders of burying their heads in the sand over this issue and that this “a significant problem for the British Pakistani community.” The Pakistani community definitely needs to step up to the mark in order to prevent horrific crimes like this from happening again. Parents, community leaders and religious teachers alike need to stress the importance of gender and racial equality to our children at home, school and in the mosques as well as having the courage to speak out and address the ways in which the community is failing its members.