How I was branded a racist – for trying to save girls from their vile abusers: Former MP ANN CRYER on the accusations she has faced after daring to say these are culturally-routed crimes
Flicking through the newspapers at my home in West Yorkshire yesterday, I found myself struggling with conflicting emotions.
Yes, I welcomed the successful conviction — this time in Newcastle — of another predatory gang for exploiting and abusing vulnerable girls.
And I felt immense relief that 18 people, all but one of them men, are no longer free to groom, drug, assault and rape children, to incite prostitution or profit from human trafficking.
There was pride, too, that my work as an MP has helped expose this evil. But there was also huge frustration.
It is almost 15 years since I first sounded a warning about the plight of young white girls being exploited by men from Asian communities in Britain.
Yet on Wednesday evening, as I watched the TV news, it was clear to me there are broadcasters still reluctant to state the basic facts about who the abusers are, for fear of appearing racist or Islamophobic.
Let us be clear: the men in the dock were mainly British-born from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Iranian, Iraqi, Turkish and Indian communities, where I have seen a deep-rooted misogyny that perpetrates this form of abuse.
Some on the Left still refuse to accept that these are culturally rooted crimes, while key religious and secular leaders in British-Asian communities are slow to come forward to condemn the men involved.
No doubt I will be called racist for even daring to point this out. It is nothing new.
Ever since I was first made aware of the problems and worked to highlight them, I have lived with hateful accusations of racism. But I have never let that deter me. I had to keep doing what I knew in my heart was right.
Today, it is far easier for victims and the authorities to speak out about these crimes. Media coverage of the grooming gangs in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere in recent years means there is a greater awareness of the problem.
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