Should Sarah Champion have backtracked and then resigned over ‘Asian Sex Gangs’ article?

I had not intended to comment on this story at all but it continues apace. It also touches on several areas that this blog has regularly concerned itself. These include issues of free speech, Oldham matters and ethnic/faith relations.

The issues of child exploitation by gangs of predominantly South Asian (largely, but not exclusively, Pakistani) men has been an issue very much on the agenda of late. First, there was the docudrama, followed up with a direct documentary, detailing the appalling failure of both the police and social services in Rochdale several years ago. The men involved in the exploitation were eventually brought to justice in 2012.

Next came the news that a paedophile ring, once again of predominantly South Asian (largely Pakistani) men, had been broken in Newcastle. The BBC report, ’17 men and one woman were convicted of rape, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution’. With striking similarity to the issues in Rochdale, it was noted that people were so afraid of being called racist that they were not prepared to report behaviour that amounted to a child protection issue.

Mohammad Shafiq had this to say about the issue:

I was one of the first within the Muslim community to speak out about this, four years ago and at the time I received death threats from some black and Asian people. But what I said has been proved right — that if we didn’t tackle it there would be more of these abusers and more girls getting harmed.


Now, in the wake of the recent Newcastle case, Sarah Champion – MP for a town, Rotherham, that had one of the most prolific Asian Sex Gangs working within it – has made a similar case in The Sun. You can read her article in full here. The inevitable political backlash came and Champion ‘distanced herself’ from the article. Further pressure was applied and Champion resigned as Shadow Equalities Minister.

Interestingly, today on LBC Talk Radio, Maajid Nawaz had this to say:

First, it bears saying that I live in a town that has, in the recent past, had problems with these types of paedophile gangs. I minister in an area that is almost exclusively Pakistani Muslim in ethnography. I am involved in English Classes, interfaith meetings and local community work all of which serve Pakistani Muslim people. I also have a young daughter who is, as you might imagine, white. I have a deep love for this town, I have fatherly concern for my daughter and I care about my Pakistani Muslim friends and neighbours. None of this is academic, or some minor point of interest, for me.

Second, it is important to recognise that (a) Pakistani men are not the only people who abuse children and (b) not all Pakistani men are hell-bent on abusing children. Nonetheless, whilst these two points should not be lost, it does not change the fact that there is a specific problem here. Jack Straw rightly stated it back in 2011:

Pakistanis, let’s be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders’ wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders. But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men… who target vulnerable young white girls.

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. These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically. So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care… who they think are easy meat.

Naz Shah has twice spoken out on the issue. First, she penned a letter denouncing Trevor Kavanagh’s article in the Sun in which he opined about Britain’s ‘Muslim problem’. The right-wing and Conservative Archbishop Cranmer blog has done a masterful job of explaining why viewing this as a ‘Muslim problem’ at all is a problem all of its own. Next, however, Shah turned her ire onto Champion, arguing that her article ‘demonises’ all Muslim men.

The issue, as helpfully pointed out by Maajid Nawaz, is this:

Only three percent of the United Kingdom’s population is composed of people like me, British Pakistani Muslims, probably less than three percent. About four percent of this country is Muslim. Around three percent or less is South Asian Muslim, people like me. And yet according to 2011 figures, 28% of these rape gang cases are involving South Asian Muslims.

That’s what we call disproportionate. There is a disproportionate problem with rape gangs in this country coming from people like me and my cultural background. That is something we simply have to talk about.

Sarah Champion’s constituency, where she’s representing people in South Yorkshire, was the home to more than 1,400 hundred child victims of sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013. A report into this grooming scandal, this rape scandal, found quote almost all of the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin.

Nawaz notes in the video that the 28% figure is highly likely to be considerably higher today because, since 2011, there have been greater numbers of British Pakistanis involving themselves in such gangs.

Nobody is arguing that only Pakistani men commit child abuse. Nobody is arguing that all Pakistani men commit child abuse. Nobody is arguing that South Asian girls never face child exploitation too. There is, however, a clear and disproportionate problem of South Asian men – predominantly of Pakistani origin – committing rape and engaging in child exploitation of almost exclusively white, British prepubescent girls.

The judgement in the latest conviction of the Newcastle gang stated that this was a ‘profoundly racist crime’. It was noted that the gangs viewed white girls specifically as ‘trash’ and ‘worthless’ and thus good only to be exploited in this heinous way. This has been typical of all such examples of similar crimes.

Sarah Champion knows this first-hand and has served a community that has faced these issues in abundance. She has now been forced to first backtrack from her article and then resign from her shadow cabinet post because it is being deemed unacceptable to highlight this issue. It was this very ring of liberal politically correct silence that allowed the problems in places like Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford and Oldham to go on for so long. Time and again the authorities were alerted but, for fear of being branded racist, things were pursued no further. Now, when somebody has spoken out, they have been forced to resign.

How can we possibly deal with the issue if we are never allowed to discuss it? If any mention of the words ‘Asian’, ‘Pakistani’ or ‘Muslim’ are not permitted in the same sentence as ‘child sex abuse’, can we really be surprised if it keeps happening again and again? Mohammad Shafiq has been warning about it for years. Sara Rowbotham reported it and was treated abominably, ultimately being sacked for it. Sarah Champion has been forced to resign over it. Maajid Nawaz has now noted it. Given that neither Shafiq nor Nawaz have been forced out of their posts, it seems something of the same inverted-racism that won’t ever hear the problem being raised is the same inverted-racism that allows two British Pakistani men to make the comments without pushback but saw Sara Rowbotham and Sarah Champion, two white women, removed from post.

There are two problems here. One is the disproportionate, and overwhelmingly high, number of South Asian Muslims involved in child exploitation gangs. The other is the illiberal liberal unwillingness to even speak of it. This is not a neutral stance nor a benign political swerve. It is the deeply unpleasant, and morally abhorrent, position that protecting British Pakistani male culture from criticism takes precedence over treating white working-class girls with basic dignity. They have determined, in their wisdom, that anybody who voices such a view will be branded a racist and a bigot. All the while, there are vulnerable children being sexually exploited… but as long as nobody thinks we’re racist, that’s the main thing.

Once again, nobody is arguing that only Pakistani men commit child abuse nor that all Pakistani men commit child abuse. But unless we are prepared to talk about the obvious problem within the community (despite the fact not everybody in the community is part of the problem) it will continue unabated. Please, for the sake of the children, can we at least talk about it honestly.