Column: ‘Three Girls’ is just the tip of the iceberg

Veronica Clark pictured with her  book, true story 'Stolen Girl'.  Picture: Marie Caley D4426MC
Veronica Clark pictured with her book, true story 'Stolen Girl'. Picture: Marie Caley D4426MC

Five years ago I wrote a book called Stolen Girl. A year later, in January 2013, it was published. The book created a backlash because it was one of the first to be written about the abuse of a white girl by an Asian (mainly Pakistani) grooming gang.

I’d been approached to write it by a London publisher. Then aged 19, Katie (not her real name) had real issues with trust. She’d already tried to work with two other writers before I met her, but they’d stepped down because she could barely speak about what had happened to her. I called Katie and we arranged to meet up. I knew there was no way I’d be able to conduct interviews with her over the telephone. What I discovered was a fragile and broken girl who was still trapped inside the mind of a 13-year-old – the age when the abuse had started. She was, quite rightly, angry at the way she’d been used, abused, raped and threatened by these men, who had plied her with drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. We built up a level of trust and slowly she began to open up and tell me her story. It shocked even me – a hardened news reporter – and I suspected then that it was only the tip of the iceberg. It was. Ten months later, Girl A – a book based on the Rochdale sex ring and grooming of white girls by Asian men – followed. Both Katie’s book and Girl A brought along with them accusations of racism levelled at the victims who had dug deep and somehow found the courage to speak up. Katie appeared (her face concealed behind a screen) on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. Afterwards, some labelled her racist whilst other far right extremists tried to hijack her story to spread their own vitriol. But Katie wasn’t racist, she was simply telling the truth. The issue of male Asians grooming white girls was back in the spotlight last week with the BBC programme ‘Three Girls’. Many were shocked and repulsed at the contents, but I suspect Katie wasn’t. You see, she’d lived it for three long years. She’d not only been raped and abused, but had then been labelled racist in court by the very system put in place to protect her and other vulnerable children. But Katie, like two of the three girls, finally got her day in court and saw justice done. If her story taught me one thing it was to always listen to our children. These men didn’t abuse Katie because they were Asian, they abused her because they were paedophiles.