Over the past few days, we have seen a national debate on the problems of grooming and the impact on society but today’s sad story in the Manchester Evening News that my home town of Rochdale has men who have carried out such heinous crimes brings it closer to home. 

 

We have a problem with criminal gangs who groom white teenagers because of their evil satisfaction, selling and using drugs and making very quick money.  Having spoken to several survivors over the past few days, I know some of these men were making between £600 - £1000 a day.   There is no faith or culture in the world that encourages or endorses such evil crimes and for some to suggest there is, is dangerous and unacceptable.

 

These gangs have destroyed the lives of promising teenagers and I have nothing but contempt for them.

Speaking out comes with risks, two years ago I spoke out on this issue after hearing the harrowing stories from two mothers in Lancashire on BBC Radio 5 Live whose daughters had been groomed and led into prostitution - they were only 14 at the time.  I do not take any comfort in saying that two years on I have been proven right on this, I pay tribute to the teenagers and their families for being so courageous in giving evidence against these gangs, without their testimony and bravery many of these evil men would still be walking the streets of the UK. 

 

My desire has been to take on these gangs in the community, it is clear that they do not value White teenagers because they think they are less valuable or honourable than their own daughters or sisters and by targeting white girls there would be no fall back in the community.  To pick their own girls would lead to problems and fall backs and they did not want the

 

There are a small minority of criminals operating in the UK, it is not widespread and indeed there have been white men who have been convicted in these crimes too.  Singling a whole community or faith system is wrong, the community find these crimes sickening, to think that some child at 11 or 12 being led into grooming and their parents can do nothing about it is so devastating for me - these girls are my daughters and sisters.

 

The solutions are quite simple - Imams and Mosques must address these issues in their Friday sermons and in all activities with young men.

They should be promoting that these white teenagers are no less valuable than their own daughters or sisters.   There needs to be more honest and open dialogue with the Police and authorities where these issues are addressed, a local marketing campaign with advertisements and leaflets talking detailing the crimes and what happens if you are involved in this evil.

Whatever the days ahead bring, I know many in Rochdale will recognise that the British Pakistani community abhors what has gone on and that we encourage people to come forward to the Police if they have any information.  We will never rest as a community until these crimes are stopped.

 

Author is Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Leading Muslim organisation in the UK

 

Mohammed.shafiq@ramadhanfoundation.com

 

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