Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a growing problem in the UK. Many young females and males are targeted, groomed and exploited due to vulnerabilities and other contributing factors such as culture, age and disabilities.
With the media often portraying young white females as the victims and Asian males (Pakistani and Bangladeshi) as the perpetrators, are young Asian/Muslim girls affected by the growing issues of sexual exploitation?
Yes!. It is challenging to ascertain the true number or the extent of young females and males from ethnic groups who have been exploited or are being exploited due to a number of reasons.
– Fear of shame and bringing dishonour to their families.
– Fear of being disowned by family.
– Fear of disbelieve from family members.
– Fear of being forced into a forced or an arranged marriage.
– Fear of being forced to migrate to country of origin.
A reported published by Muslim Women Network UK (MWNU, 2013) reported that, “ It was clear that Asian/Muslim girls and young women were considered a less risky option compared with girls from other backgrounds because they seemed less likely to report the abuse particularly because of “shame and dishonour”.
Within some Asian communities, status and power is very important. The idea of bringing shame or dishonouring the family to tarnish this supremacy, can be overwhelming and in some case cause serious implications (death). Females often, have no rights and are expected to be totally dependent on the males within the community. Females are at times restricted and expected to submit to males who often hold a lot of the authority and power within the community. Due to the severity of the restriction imposed on many females growing up within these communities, the desire to seek independence and experience freedom is very strong for many young females. Subsequently, this increases their vulnerability as, perpetrators prey on this desire young females have before have before exploiting them.
There is a possibility that, perpetrators calculated choice of victims are Asian/Muslim girls due to parental control and restrictions in movement and daily lifestyle.
MWNU (2013) Reported that “ most common grooming models observed were the older boyfriends and ”peer” models with victims initially targeted and groomed by younger men connected to their schools and colleges, either pupil at the same school had been out of the education system before being introduced to older men”.
These young men and females (often groomed themselves) are paid to target and befriend vulnerable girls at their school. They are then introduced to the “older boyfriend” who exploits them and blackmail them into participating in further exploitative activities.
The report stated that a “typical grooming hierarchy would operate as follows. Grooming of the victim (often paid or coerced) by peers starts at school where she is introduced to an older boyfriend. The older boyfriend then starts a relationship with the victim or rapes and blackmails her and then introduces her to other more powerful men in the hierarchy. These men either pay to have sex with the victim or an exchange of favours may take place between them and the victim’s boyfriend. These men also take the victim to sex parties, organised by them and where the victim is passed on to other men for sex. There is normally an all-powerful man at the top of the grooming / exploitation hierarchy who arranges for other men to be at these “parties” where sex and accommodation is provided in return for payment”.
The reported suggested that young Asian/Muslim females thrived for love and affection. The idea of one finding “her own” partner is a way of escaping an arranged or forced marriage.
Grooming tactics and methods of control used by perpetrators include, promises of secret Islamic marriage, showing love, attention and affection to victims, giving gifts (clothes, perfume, money, shoes, mobile phones etc) and providing drugs and alcohol to reduced victims ability to make decisions, lessen the resistance to abuse and to fully recall the incidents.
Reasons for such practices within our community vary. MWNU (2013) reported that some Asian/Muslim communities often marry girls off when they reach puberty, this might be a contributing factor to the mentality that it is culturally acceptable to exploit young females.
The lack of education is a major key component to this growing issue within this community. Often, relationships and sex is not discussed within families from these ethnic backgrounds. It is believed that discussing these topics might expose a child inappropriate content, or might cause them to engage with sexual activities at a young age. Some families choose to remove their children from sex education in schools due to this believe.
Consequently, the lack of these discussions within many communities mean that, young people are not educated about what is right/wrong/inappropriate/appropriate when it comes to sex and relationships. This problem of CSE needs to be addressed within our communities due to the implications and sufferings it brings to most victims. Assuming that victims of this problem are often white British therefore, dismissing the problem within our community is dangerous.
It is evident that power and status is significant in some communities. Subsequently if it is causing significant harm to our children it should be questioned. Promoting women’s rights within ethnic communities can be a factor to help address this ongoing problem. Women should not be abused and traumatised because of “cultural” believes. Culture should bring about unity, safety, improve productivity and bring about positive changes.
To address CSE that has already taken place, a safe space should be accessible for young girls to open up about their experiences whether it is at home, to an organisation or to a trusted individuals. Young people should not be blamed for their abuse or be seen as “bad” or “promiscuous”. Making excuses for the perpetrators of such crime encourages the abuse which is unacceptable.
Support for Victims and Families
- http://www.muslimwomenscouncil.org.uk – 01274 223 230
- NSPCC – Child line- 0800 1111 (Adults concerned about a child: 0808 800 5000)
- Police (Emergency: 999, Enquiry: 101)
- Your Local Authority (Children Social Care)
References and Further Readings