ROTHERHAM, ENGLAND – Members of Britain’s Pakistani community reacted with outrage Wednesday amid reports that officials failed to act on sex abuse cases because of concerns about racism in the northern English town of Rotherham.
Report author Alexis Jay said between 1997 and 2013, some 1,400 children were sexually exploited in the town of 250,000, mostly by Pakistani men. Charities that deal with abused children have expressed shock not just at the number of victims but by the apparent reluctance of town authorities to address the fact that people of Pakistani heritage were involved for fear they would be labeled racists.
Muhbeen Hussain, founder of Rotherham Muslim Youth Group, told the Daily Mirror on Wednesday that Muslims are disgusted that justice was not done in Rotherham.
“Race, religion or political correctness should never provide a cloak of invisibility to such grotesque crimes,” he said.
Barnardo’s, a charity that works with vulnerable children, unilaterally condemned the abuse that left so many to suffer for so long.
“No one should ever be frightened to act decisively because of fear of being seen as racist or politically incorrect,” said Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan.
Britain’s Labour Party called for the resignation of the police commissioner in the town, a member of its own ranks, after the report found that “collective failures” led to inaction.
But Jay said Rotherham is not the only place in Britain struggling with this issue. She told the BBC that “demand for this kind of sexual activity with children is on the increase and that is validated across not just the U.K. but Europe and worldwide.”
“We can’t say that Rotherham is any better or worse than other places because the information simply doesn’t exist at a national level to tell us that,” she said.