Concern about ‘sensitive’ community issues

Khadija Khan writes:

A recent independent review into child grooming and abuse in Manchester in the mid-2000s has revealed horrific details of how the victims were denied protection, and turned away by British police officers and social workers. The victims had been deliberately hooked on drugs, groomed, and sexually abused for years by grooming gangs predominantly comprised of Pakistani men, while the authorities involved looked the other way. These revelations of institutionalized criminal negligence were soon followed by denials, accusations, regrets, and excuses.

Apparently, the neglect of the sexual exploitation of women and girls at least partly arose to avoid creating racial tensions in the area. Some still believe that discussion of paedophile gangs of Asian men grooming and sexually abusing white working-class girls should be avoided, because it could stir up racial hatred and disrupt British society.

This is where the magic word “intersectionality” really comes into play, isn’t it. Let’s look the other way when it comes to this thing because it might be bad for The Muslim Community if we paid attention. Let’s look the other way when it comes to this thing because it might be bad for The Trans Community if we paid attention.

I can’t help noticing a commonality. In both cases it’s women who have to give way, women who are considered less important than this other Community we want to protect. Also in both cases it’s men who are doing bad things to women so they’re the ones shielded by the intersectional decision to look away from what they’re doing.

It’s all made trickier by the fact that it’s not wrong to worry about racism or hostility to Muslims, just as it’s not wrong to worry about abuse of trans people.

The Manchester report is no different from earlier child abuse scandals in Rotherham and Telford, or over 20 other UK communities in which grooming gangs operated with impunity. According to the review, the girls were subjected to ‘the most profound abuse and exploitation.’ They were groomed and sexually abused by South Asian men of all ages, who would drug them, rape them and pass them around at sex parties like meat on a platter.

Given these horrific and inhuman revelations,  it is shocking that some people find discussion of the perpetrators’ backgrounds more disturbing than the scandalous nature of the abuse itself. The review revealed that Greater Manchester Police’s concern about ‘sensitive’ community issues was a reason why the perpetrators were not held accountable for their crimes.

The sensitive community issues matter, but so do those girls.

It is imperative to note that British authorities feared offending vocal, self-appointed Muslim leaders who represent a highly conservative cultural and religious viewpoint, and who do not welcome any kind of scrutiny or criticism from outside – or even within – the community. 

That, on the other hand, matters a whole lot less than concern about hostility directed at South Asians in general. Conservative theocratic men are pretty much the last people the cops should be protecting at the expense of girls abused by their fellow conservative theocratic men.

It is safe to say that the cover-up of the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and girls was done to protect the sensibilities of a highly conservative section of Muslim communities, which view any criticisms as a direct attack on Islam and their culture.

Protecting multicultural sensitivities cannot justify the criminal cover-up of a scandal that has affected British women and girls for over a decade.  Progressive voices, and especially dissenters within Muslim communities, face harsh criticism from the liberal fringe as well as from hard-line Muslims. Muslim reformers calling out deep rooted misogyny in their communities are constantly slandered, and accused of fuelling tensions between communities.

Wrong turn at the intersection.

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