Challenging the Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Yorkshire Context

Just West Yorkshire facilitated a meeting with key national and Yorkshire based organisations involved in CSE work to facilitate an open and honest discussion on the issue of child sexual exploitation and particularly street grooming in the region. The aims of the meeting were to: a. understand the problem b. explore intervention strategies c. develop strategies for resilience drawing on best practice. The Report particularly addresses the issue from the perspective of Muslim perpetrators, BME and young male victims as this area remains considerably under-researched. However many of the observations and recommendations made in this Report applies to all victims of street grooming and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Despite the existence of different models of child grooming involving both white and minority ethnic perpetrators and victims, both the political rhetoric and the press and media coverage of street grooming presents the problem in racialised and Islamaphobic terms as an Asian, Pakistani and Muslim problem. The failure to describe the regional prevalence of other models of CSE predominantly committed by White men – such as the conviction of a Mormon preacher in Keighley on child grooming charges; the grooming of young girls by Jimmy Saville in neighbouring Leeds; child sex-trafficking among Eastern Europeans and critically the grooming of young girls over the internet – without a corresponding reference to Christianity is deeply polarising and ultimately gives succour to the Far-Right, racists and Islamaphobes. It is in this context that the high-profile launch of the Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation in Bradford – a joint initiative between Hope not Hate and the Islamic Society of Britain – was seen as a setback for the local community as it perpetuates stereotypes by locating the issue in the context of Bradford, Islam and the Far-Right. Instead the issue of CSE is primarily one of safeguarding young children and any intervention strategies must prioritise this approach. Current data on street grooming in Bradford highlights the fact that perpetrators of this model of CSE are mainly Muslim men of Pakistani heritage. However the widely peddled view that street grooming is a Black on White crime – a view that is given legitimacy by Bradford politicians such as the former MP of Keighley Ann Cryer, the current MP Kris Hopkins and national politicians such as Jack Straw MP and the Police and Criminal Justice Minister, Damian Green – invisibilises victims from ethnic minority backgrounds and marginalises their needs. Intervention strategies therefore have to address the issue from the perspective of vulnerability as the phenomenon of street grooming is an opportunistic crime rather than one determined by religion, race or ethnicity. The foregrounding of White over BME victims and the spotlight on the street grooming model of CSE over other models is eroding community cohesion and both inter and intra-community relations in the district. The repeated targeting of Bradford by the EDL is not co-incidental as the Far Right feeds off this divisive narrative and uses it as a recruiting sergeant to their ranks. Read the report: Final CSE Report JUST West Yorkshire

Key national and Yorkshire based organisations engaged in an open and honest discussion on the issue of Child Sexual Exploitation and particularly the issue of street grooming in the region. The discussion is captured in this report.

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