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Should we be blamed for the actions of nine men?
A gang of men from Rochdale who preyed on young girls for sex were found guilty yesterday.
Nine out of the eleven who were arrested and put on trial were convicted for the crimes.
The high-profile case brought much media attention and was immediately turned into a race and a religious issue.
Media reports again referred to the case with un-related terms like "Muslim Men" and "Pakistani", re-enforcing the reporting bias which has ran throughout the case.
Here are just some of the points that need to be addressed on this case.
• Our sympathies are with the families of the abused girls as well as those of the convicted men who have had to go through so much in the last months • We need to move beyond the discussion where we internalise the debate to race or religion.
• No doubt, the criminal actions of these men are bad and those convicted have been sentenced. The wider context is how is it that young girls are falling into the arms of such people? men who are nearly double and triple their ages?
• The groomers did not live in a bubble, but the same society where all of us are growing. We are all susceptible to the growing sexual influences through Media, Celebrity culture, what we see on adverts and billboards and movies, all of which hugely affect our ideas on how men view women and vice versa. Society is already hugely sexualised and some people, like these men, take it to the extreme to fulfil ‘Fantasies’ or ego issues • The statistics on the issue are still incomplete as not all cases are reported. Hence the Media witch hunt on the issue is un-justified in labelling Pakistani men in having a monopoly on this particular criminal activity • There is a clash of values in terms of what Islam promotes as Social values for men and women and what the host society pushes forward. Young British Pakistanis growing up feel the full force of this culture, just like every one else, even in places like schools where in PHSE lessons pupils are offered the option of contraception. Hence sex is promoted at a young age. This is a lifestyle choice unacceptable in Islam. Instead muslims are encouraged to get married and lead a healthy Family life.
In doing so, we would create responsible men and women who value each others contribution to society, as opposed to looking at each other in a sexual way.
•Islam is far away from the behaviours of these men just as is the 'in your face' sexual culture and attitudes that are found readily available • The Pakistani Community in Rochdale will not allow the far-right, EDL and BNP, to use this case to further their intellectually bankrupt agendas • The Pakistani Community cannot be held responsible for the criminal actions of individual people • As a Pakistani community we need to begin to shift the debate on this issue which has been polarised heavily to make us internalise the discussion and feel guilty entirely for the issue.
Instead, the Debate should be widened and explored further onto the underlying discussions which is 'How are these Sexual Predators created?'
Majed Iqbal is Rochdale based writer and commentator. Also see: majedsblog.wordpress.com/
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