Gangs of Asian men who groom and sexually exploit children have been targeting Muslims within their own communities as well as white girls, a damning report has revealed.
The study shows that offenders will target vulnerable youngsters of the same ethnicity – but rely on the Asian and Muslim culture of honour and shame to mask their vile crimes.
The Muslim Women’s Network UK report focuses on Mulsim and Asian abused children, who they say have been sexually exploited but overlooked by authorities because they are too frightened to speak out.
The worrying study follows a series of high profile cases about gangs of Asian men who have targeted white girls.
But the report exposes how in the majority of cases offenders will groom members of their own community, feeding them drink and drugs and silencing them with promises of marriage to conceal the abuse.
It also reveals that victims were already vulnerable to being sexually exploited by gangs, as they had a limited knowledge of sex, suffered from disabilities, or were seeking to escape a harsh background.
The MWNUK claims there has been a ‘deafening silence’ surrounding this particular group of victims, pointing to the Asian and Muslim culture of honour and shame, which stops many victims speaking out about sexual abuse and seeking help.
They also say that the culture of men holding the authority and women must be respectable means that the abused females will often stay silent about their experiences, for fear of not being believed by their community.
The report found that victims often received little support when abuse was discovered.
It said: ‘When the family became aware of any abuse they re-victimised them, which meant not believing them, blaming them, forcing them into a marriage, forcing them to leave the family home and in one case forcing the victim to have hymen repair surgery prior to a forced marriage.
Consequently the report claims that this vulnerable portion of society are often overlooked by statutory services and not identified as victims as they have not spoken up either to authorities or their own communities, who could have helped them.
The report identified how groups would target youngsters, typically using an older peer of the victim to play the role of ‘older boyfriend’.
The targeted girl would be presented with gifts by the ‘boyfriend’, given rides in expensive cars and promised love and marriage, before being introduced to older men and the campaign of abuse would begin.
Sometimes she would be plied with drink and drugs, so she would not know the extent of her abuse or even how many men had violated her.
The shocking report found the gangs would rape the victims, beat them, burn them with cigarettes and film them being exploited on webcam.
Blackmail was a key way of controlling victims and ensuring their silence, the study discovered, as gangs threatened their victims with dishonour and shame should they speak up.
Honorary president and MWNUK’s co-founding member Baroness Haleh Afshar OBE said: ‘These case studies indicate that, contrary to media studies that accuse Muslim men of grooming non-Muslim girls, the majority of the abusers were from the same ethnic /faith background as the victims and perpetrators targeted girls that were most vulnerable and accessible to them.
‘Like their non-Muslim counterparts some of the victims were silenced by fear of violence against them or their family, others had an emotional attachment to their attackers and others feared that they would not be believed by their own family and others.
‘In addition, the attackers relied on the deep sense of honour and shame in their family and community to silence and control their victims.’
The report found that older men who targeted their own relatives would often intimidate their terrified youngsters into silence and, if necessary, use violence or arrange a forced marriage to mask their abuse.
The analysis collected 35 cases of abuse over five months, and had to speak to those who knew the victims and may have helped them, as victims were reluctant to speak of the abuse personally.
Key findings found that: ‘Asian and Muslim female victims are also vulnerable to grooming and sexual exploitation and are also being targeted and sexually exploited and include children, young persons (16 to 18 years) and adults.
‘Asian and Muslim female victims are most vulnerable to offenders from their own communities as the overwhelming majority of the offenders were from the same background as the victims.
‘Asian and Muslim children, young persons and adults have specific vulnerabilities associated with their culture which are exploited and also constitute a barrier to disclosure and reporting.’
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities, said: ‘The case studies are finally shining much needed spotlight on a problem that has largely, and tragically, gone unnoticed in the past.
‘The cases of Asian and Muslim female victims make for hard reading, but this report, and other research like it, is necessary if we are to take the action needed to stamp out these abhorrent crimes.’
Nazir Afazl OBE, the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘We know that women and victims from minorities are even more reluctant to report these crimes, in part because of honour and shame issues.
‘It is the availability of victims coupled with their vulnerability that leads to them being targeted by these predators.’
He urged communities and individuals to speak out about abuse if they knew it was happening.
The report comes after a series of high-profile child sex gang cases – including five men who were jailed for life in June for ‘crimes of the utmost gravity’ in Oxford.
Child sex gangs have also been caught in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire and Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
OFFICIALS MUST STOP ‘TIP-TOEING AROUND RACE IN SEX-GANGS’
In June MPs said public officials must stop ‘tip-toeing’ around race when tackling child sex gangs and claimed that there is a trend of Asian gangs targeting youngsters.
A dangerous trend of Pakistani men grooming young white girls does exist, according to a Commons home affairs committee report.
Police, prosecutors and social workers must be able to raise the issue without fear of being accused of racism, the committee said.
But it warned against stereotyping offenders because there is no straightforward link between race and child sexual exploitation.
In shocking conclusions to a year-long inquiry, MPs said there were still areas where victims were being failed by the authorities.
Rochdale and Rotherham councils were accused of being ‘inexcusably slow’ to realise sex abuse was taking place on their doorstep.
And they said both councils had a ‘woeful lack of professional curiosity’ and were responsible for the ‘appalling consequences of their indifference to the suffering of vulnerable children’.
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