gang of British Pakistani men raped and pimped up to 50 underage white girls because they were not part of their "community or religion". Last week, a judge sentenced them — eight men of Pakistani origin and one Afghan — to a total of 77 years in prison. Further arrests may be made in the wake of reported police suspicions that up to 50 more men, also mainly of Pakistani origin, took part in the abuse.
Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have apologised for not bringing the case of the first victim, Girl A, to trial following her cry for help in August 2008. Their failure to do so, which left the paedophiles free to sexually abuse their subsequent victims, has been attributed to the police's fear of being branded racist.
Sentencing the men, Judge Gerald Clifton said that they targeted children in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, who were at "a period in their lives full of difficulty and misery... you treated them as though they were worthless and beyond any respect. One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion".
||Opinion is divided as to whether the men’s crimes were racially motivated. Keith Vaz, chairman of the influential Commons home affairs committee, said the “appalling” offences of the kind carried out by the gang needed to be looked into but it was important not to “stigmatise a whole community".
The sheer scale of the abuse has horrified the country. During the trial it emerged that a 15-year-old girl was raped by one of the men as a "treat" for his birthday. One 13-year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted. Another 15-year-old from a children's home was forced to have sex with 25 Asian men in one night. When another girl was being sick after drinking alcohol, she was raped by three men in turn. The litany of the crimes of the gang and the sufferings of their young victims is chilling. The paedophiles, aged 22 to 59, set out to deliberately befriend the most vulnerable young girls, plying them with drugs and alcohol before either raping or using them as prostitutes, often both. Sentencing the men to terms in prison ranging between four to 19 years, the judge said, "You attracted them to your company by flattery, for food and alcohol. Some of you acted to satiate your lust; some of you to make money out of them." At least one of the men will be deported after serving his sentence.
Opinion is divided as to whether the men's crimes were racially motivated. Keith Vaz, chairman of the influential Commons home affairs committee, said the "appalling" offences of the kind carried out by the gang needed to be looked into but it was important not to "stigmatise a whole community". But Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, accused Pakistani community elders of "burying their heads in the sand" over the issue. He believes race is "central to the actions" of the criminals. "They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community." Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, told BBC Radio 5 Live that he has had to throw Asian men out of his office for the way they have spoken about young white girls: "There is a culture that exists, I believe, within the Asian community ... a small group of Asian men who have a particular view about young white girls that is completely unacceptable... They have made derogatory comments about young white girls that I have not heard made by other men. This is not a one off case." The statistics appear to bear him out. Of 68 recent convictions for child "grooming", 59 were for Pakistani men.