Child sex gangs: a ques­tion of race?

The Week Middle East - - News -

“It’s a pat­tern we sim­ply can­not ig­nore,” said Nazir Afzal, a for­mer chief crown prose­cu­tor, in the Daily Mail. Over the past six years, male gangs have been pros­e­cuted for or­gan­ised sex-groom­ing crimes in no fewer than 16 English cities and towns. The lat­est site in this grim ros­ter is New­cas­tle, where last week 17 men and one woman were con­victed of sex­u­ally abus­ing more than 20 vul­ner­a­ble young fe­males. In all but two of these groom­ing scan­dals, most of the per­pe­tra­tors were men of South Asian her­itage. And all but three of their victims were teenage white girls. It’s clear that the growth of these gangs has been fu­elled by misog­y­nis­tic at­ti­tudes to­wards women in gen­eral, but in par­tic­u­lar by con­tempt for white girls, whom one of the New­cas­tle gang mem­bers re­port­edly re­ferred to as “trash” who were “only good for one thing”. Once again, com­men­ta­tors are lament­ing the “taboo” around the eth­nic­ity of these men, said So­nia Sodha in The Guardian. Yet we seem to talk of lit­tle else in the wake of these scan­dals. It dis­tracts us from the more im­por­tant is­sue of how to en­sure these crimes never hap­pen again. The abusers aren’t unique in hav­ing prej­u­diced at­ti­tudes to­wards young girls. One of the rea­sons they of­ten got away with it, after all, is that many peo­ple in au­thor­ity “didn’t see these girls as worth the bother or, even worse, saw them as cul­pa­ble for their own abuse”. We shouldn’t get too hung up on the men’s race and re­li­gion, agreed an ed­i­to­rial in the same pa­per. They have other things in com­mon, such as the fact that they are usu­ally en­gaged in more than one form of crim­i­nal­ity, and of­ten work in the night-time econ­omy as taxi driv­ers or in fast-food out­lets. It’s not easy to “sort cor­re­la­tion from cau­sa­tion, mo­tive from op­por­tu­nity”. But there seems to be a glar­ing in­con­sis­tency at work here, said The Daily Tele­graph. In some cases, the courts are only too happy to raise the race is­sue. In 2015, for in­stance, a con­victed child rapist was given a longer sen­tence be­cause his victims were, like him, Asian. The judge ar­gued that their suf­fer­ing would be made greater by os­tracism within their com­mu­nity. Yet in the New­cas­tle case – which Lord Mac­don­ald, a for­mer di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, called a “pro­foundly racist” crime – race wasn’t even men­tioned as a fac­tor in sen­tenc­ing. Ad­mit­tedly, the par­al­lel be­tween the cases is “im­per­fect”, but it does sug­gest that “po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness” is still pre­vent­ing an hon­est de­bate about this prob­lem. Let’s leave race out of it when it comes to sen­tenc­ing, said Sarah Bax­ter in The Sun­day Times. Judges shouldn’t have to take ac­count of a com­mu­nity’s “shame” cul­ture. “Rape is a crime. It’s not spe­cial. Not racial. Just wrong.”

Con­victed: New­cas­tle abusers

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