Column: Irresponsible to view us through a prism

Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham.
Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham.

I have to say that I strongly condemn Rotherham MP Sarah Champion’s incendiary statement in the Sun newspaper, entitled ‘British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls… and it’s time we faced up to it.’
The fact that a Labour party minister, also the shadow minister for equalities and women would choose to racialise paedophilia and child sexual exploitation / grooming along ethnic lines is irresponsible. I believe it will encourage hatred against minorities, predominantly the Pakistani community provide fuel to the far right, and further legitimise the use of racial rhetoric.

I strongly condemn every form of gender based violence, abuse and power and welcome the convictions of all people who commit such heinous crimes – and if we are looking at a common denominator in all off these cases, 99.9 per cent of the time the perpetrators are men.

When I worked for Doncaster Council we had the highest rates of domestic violence in South Yorkshire, the perpetrators in 99 per cent of those cases are men.

The seven children who died in Doncaster that resulted in a government intervention, in every one of those cases the perpetrators were predominantly men. If I search for the words paedophile and conviction in Google in the last year I find pages and pages of results, literally in every one of those cases the perpetrators are men – in fact white men. Though I will not racialise or align any faith to this cancer.

To attempt to define the issue of child sexual abuse/ grooming along ethnic lines, and to see the Pakistani community through the prism of paedophilia and criminality is frankly racist.

I am from that heritage – I have been subject to some of the most heinous racism and discrimination by women in power in my life – though I refuse to look at women in power through that prism – similarly no community should be seen through the prism of paedophilia and criminality.

If Sarah really wanted to commission research to understand the underlying issues of abuse and grooming, she could have come to my charity (in Rotherham) and other agencies instead of going to the press and attempting to politicise and sensationalise this matter.

Now we have a situation where people are making inextricable links to Islam – practiced by more than 2.6 million Muslims, including myself - as a “Muslim problem” – I dread to think what solution they will propose.

* South Yorkshire Labour MP Sarah Champion has since resigned.