Victory For Sikh Campaigners Against Blanket ‘Asian’ Description of Child Rape Gangs

Members of the Sikh community gather to call for a referendum of the Sikh global community to establish India's Punjab state as an independent country, in Trafalgar Square in central London on August 12, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) hailed the move by the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee to recommend against using the word ‘Asian’ when referring to the phenomenon of predominantly Pakistani Muslim grooming gangs in news reports.

The NSO, a registered charity representing 130 gurdwaras (temples) and other Sikh organizations in the UK, hailed the revelation that the 2020 Editors’ Code of Practice review — which will come into effect on January 1st, 2021 — cautioned against using the blanket term when discussing child rape gangs.

“We’ve long complained about the vague term ‘Asian’ to describe those convicted in sexual grooming gang cases,” the Network of Sikh Organisations wrote on social media.

In its review, the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee remained bullish and insisted the blanket term was accurate, but nevertheless could give offence. They said: “Editors may be well advised to approach crimes committed by people identified as members of religious or racial communities with caution – and to be aware that their reporting may, in turn, prompt concern in other communities.”

“British Sikh and Hindu groups have objected to the use of the word ‘Asian’ to describe those convicted in sexual grooming gang cases. While accurate, it is better to avoid such general descriptions but this may not always be possible,” the review added.

The NSO has said for years that the British press should abandon the “vague and expansive” term, arguing that Sikhs would be lumped in with mostly Pakistani Muslims in the minds of the public when thinking about the grooming gang epidemic, which has ravaged British cities such as RochdaleRotherhamOxford, and Telford for decades.

Not only have Sikhs not been found to be the perpetrators of grooming gang crimes, but Sikhs have also in fact been victims of the grooming gang scourge. A 2018 report from the Sikh Mediation and Rehabilitation Team found that young Sikh women were targeted by Muslim grooming gangs for decades. The report alleged that police ignored the plight of the young Sikh women because of “political correctness”.

In 2018, the NSO filed a complaint against the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) for an article in the left-wing British tabloid the Mirror that used the term ‘Asian’ six times when describing what the paper termed “Britain’s ‘worst ever’ child grooming scandal”, in which approximately 1,000 girls were sexually groomed.

“To put it frankly, the word ‘Asian’ gives the false impression gangs of Indian, Thai, Japanese, or Korean men are rampaging across Britain sexually abusing underage white girls on an industrial scale. Is that fair?” the NSO wrote.

“The common denominator in such cases is the deliberate targeting of non-Muslim girls, which we believe should be categorized by the police as a hate crime,” the Sikh group added.

Indeed, the 2014 Jay Report found that over 1,400 mostly white, working-class underage girls were groomed and sexually exploited by mostly Muslim, Pakistani-heritage men just between the years 1997 and 2013.

A report from the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam in 2017 found that 84 percent of those convicted of grooming gang crimes in Britain were Muslim men of South Asian heritage who targeted young white girls because they were seen as “fair game”.

One of the authors of the study, Muna Adil said: “When the final numbers came in we were alarmed and dismayed. For both of us being of Pakistani heritage, this issue is deeply personal and deeply disturbing.”

In 2018 the founder of Quilliam, Maajid Nawaz, accused local police and authorities of being “complicit” in covering up the crimes committed by grooming gangs “for fear of racism”.

“Time and time again, they have found that British Pakistani and Bangladeshi south-Asian Muslim men, like me, have been involved in grooming underage white girls and targeting them in what I would describe as racially-motivated sexual assault,” Nawaz remarked.

A report from the Mayor of Greater Manchester in January confirmed long-held suspicions that police overlooked grooming gangs out of politically correct fears, with one GMP detective constable admitting that he was told by his superiors to “try and get other ethnicities” during child sex abuse inquiries.

In 2018, the Home Office launched a review of the ethnic backgrounds of grooming gang members in the UK. Despite a petition with over 131,000 signatures, demanding the release of the review, the government has still failed to do so.

Freedom of Information requests to access the review have been rejected on grounds that government ministers require a “safe space” in order to craft policy.

The former Home Secretary — who launched the review — Sajid Javid said in 2018: “When it comes to gang-based child exploitation it is self-evident to anyone who cares to look that if you look at all the recent high-profile cases there is a high proportion of men that have Pakistani heritage.”

“There could be – I’m not saying that there are – there could be some cultural reasons from the communities that these men came from that could lead to this kind of behavior,” he added.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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