UK Muslims failing to address sexism and victim-blaming
Prosecutor Nazir Afzal, above, the man who brought a case against a gang of abusers in Rochdale in 2012, said that Muslim communities need take sexism and victim-blaming far more seriously.
Afzal, according the BBC, spoke out after the airing of drama on Monday of The Betrayed Girls, a documentary about nine Asian men jailed for grooming teenagers in Rochdale. Eight of the convicted men were of Pakistani origin and one was from Afghanistan.
There were “sizeable chunks” of communities in the UK who were derogatory to women and girls, he said.
Even now, people will say [the girls] asked for it. It is absolute nonsense but nonetheless some people do believe that.
That is part of the problem, this sort of cultural silence. Community silence, which is not complicity, but when you are silent you allow people to get away with stuff.
There is sadly a view amongst many that women and girls are a lesser beings and there aren’t any consequences if you harm them.
I am a Muslim and don’t think that way. The vast majority of Muslims don’t think that way, but there are places in this country where I hear this on a regular basis.
Afzal admitted victim-blaming could be found “across the board”, with convicted “white celebrity abusers” also saying their victims had been responsible in some way.
But he said he does not think “the conversation in Muslim communities and minority communities is as advanced” as in other groups in society.
However, Masood Shah, above, a committee member at the Mustafah Islamic Centre in Rochdale, disagreed that sexism existed within Muslim communities. He said the race and religion of abusers was:
Totally irrelevant. If you look at the core values of Islam you will find a woman has a very, very high status; a mother has more rights to a child than the father.
An Islamic saying is your heaven is under the feet of the mother. So women are highly respected.
The race and religion of [the men who were involved in grooming] was totally irrelevant. It is totally criminal activity. Nothing to do with race, creed or culture.
These men were opportunists using vulnerable children to satisfy their criminal instinct.
Shah said he believed there had been a “sea change” in Rochdale since the convictions, with the Muslim community condemning these acts “widely”.
The community is not making the strides it should be. Immediately after [the trial] there were all sorts of commitments, sermons in mosques and much more training and educational stuff, then the cameras went away and not a lot has happened since.
One of the girls who was abused by the gang was quoted by the BBC as saying gthat the targeting of girls by Asian men was still going on in the Greater Manchester.
“Laura”, whose identity is protected as a victim of a sex crime, told BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show said she was walking in Oldham town centre through an Asian community a couple of months ago.
I was still getting cars pulling over to me asking me if I wanted to go for a drink. It’s not bothering them. I don’t actually think they understand that they are doing something wrong.