Randeep Ramesh is sickened by the Rotherham report.
The putrid mess that oozes from the 160 pages of Alexis Jay’s report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is so thick that one gags rather than read the words.
Children in the town were systematically identified by gangs as vulnerable, seduced with drugs and drink, brainwashed into believing they were in a relationship with an adult and then used for sex, often raped before sometimes being trafficked to nearby cities to work as prostitutes.
The brutal violence that surrounded this depraved process was shocking. Children who refused to acquiesce to ever more macabre demands were doused in petrol, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and told they would be next if they told anyone.
We get numbed to it; we have to fight that. The violence in northern Nigeria…in Iraq…in the villages of India where dalit women are forced to clean up human shit every day of their lives…in Rotherham…We have to keep getting un-numbed to it.
What allowed these crimes to continue was not just that abused children were cowed into silence or mentally enslaved by older men, but that even when they spoke out they were met by a culture of disbelief from the authorities.
Time and time again, police and social workers appear to talk of mothers being unable to deal with children “growing up”.
In one instance, a girl of 12 was groomed, raped and then trafficked. The authorities “blamed the child … for placing herself at risk”.
In another case an 11-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted, then a year later found drunk in a car with a suspected abuser who had taken indecent pictures of her on his phone. She was declared to be at “no risk of sexual exploitation”.
If that’s no risk, what would at risk look like?
What made South Yorkshire perhaps more politically charged is that in many cases the victims were underage white girls and the perpetrators were Asian men.
There were other abuse cases – in Oxford and Telford – with the same mix of ethnicities.
The far right had a field day with slogans which cast Muslim men as dangerous paedophiles. The tabloids leapt on remarks made in 2012 by the judge in a widely reported Rochdale case, Gerald Clifton, who in sentencing nine Asian men for 77 years for abusing and raping up to 47 girls said: “I believe one of the factors which led to that is that they [the victims] were not of your community or religion.”
Discomfiting, isn’t it.