The sexual abuse of about 1,400 children at the hands of Pakistani Muslim men went unreported for 16 years because staff feared they would be seen as racist, a report said today. Children as young as 11 were trafficked, beaten, and raped by large numbers of men between 1997 and 2013 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, the council commissioned review into child protection revealed. And shockingly, more than a third of the cases were already known to agencies.
UK Daily Mail (h/t Maria J) But according to the report’s author: ‘several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist’. No council employees will face disciplinary action.
Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the report, condemned the ‘blatant’ collective failures by the council’s leadership, concluding: ‘It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered.’
The landmark report which exposed widespread failures of the council, police and social services revealed:
- Victims were doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, terrorised with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and told they would be the next if they spoke out;
- They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated;
- One victim described gang rape as ‘a way of life’;
- Police ‘regarded many child victims with contempt’;
- Some fathers tried to rescue their children from abuse but were arrested themselves;
- The approximate figure of 1,400 abuse victims is likely to be a conservative estimate of the true scale of abuse.
The lack of reports was partly down to a fear of being racist, Prof Jay wrote, as the majority of the perpetrators were described as ‘MUSLIM men’, and many were said to be of Pakistani origin. One young person told the inquiry that ‘gang rape’ was a usual part of growing up in the area of Rotherham where she lived.
In two cases, fathers had tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused – only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene. And one child declined her initial offer to give a statement after allegedly receiving a text from a perpetrator threatening to harm her younger sister.
The failures happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006 ‘which could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham’. Prof Jay said the first of these reports was ‘effectively suppressed’ because senior officers did not believe the data. The other two were ignored, the professor said. Fears had also been raised by schools over the 16 years but the alerts went uninvestigated.
Teachers reported seeing children as young as 11, 12 and 13 being picked up outside schools by cars and taxis, given presents and mobile phones and taken to meet large numbers of unknown men in Rotherham or other local towns and cities.
The majority of victims believed the perpetrators to be their boyfriend who gave them gifts, alcohol and drugs. Some of the victims still maintain they were not groomed or abused. Analysing the case studies, Prof Jay said many of the children came from dysfunctional families, had parents with addictions, and had suffered domestic or sexual abuse as a child.
Councillors seemed to dismiss previous reports as a one-off problem which they hoped would go away, according to Prof Jay. She said: ‘Others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.’
The spotlight first fell on Rotherham in 2010 when five men, described by a judge as ‘sexual predators’, were given lengthy jail terms after they were found guilty of grooming teenage girls for sex.
The five men – Umar Razaq, Adil Hussain, Razwan Razaq, Zafran Ramzan, and Mohsin Khan – preyed on their victims over several months and threatened them with violence if they refused their advances. One of the men branded his victim a ‘white bitch’ when she resisted, while a second smirked: ‘I’ve used you and abused you.’
The men, all British-born Pakistani Muslims, attacked the four girls in play areas, parks and in the back of their cars, Sheffield Crown Court heard.