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Home ยป Muslim Groups Urge Suella Braverman To Withdraw ‘irresponsible And Divisive’ Grooming Gang Comments

Muslim Groups Urge Suella Braverman To Withdraw ‘irresponsible And Divisive’ Grooming Gang Comments

Suella Braverman has been urged to withdraw “divisive” comments around child sexual exploitation (CSE) by dozens of medical bodies, businesses and Muslim community organisations, Sky News can reveal.

A number of Muslim organisations across the country have written to Rishi Sunak to express “deep concern” at what they branded “irresponsible and divisive rhetoric” from the home secretary.

Among the criticism of the home secretary is that her comments around grooming gangs, which were aired in a series of interviews last week, amounted to “inflammatory and divisive rhetoric that is sensationalist and contradicts her own department’s evidence”.

In comments that generated a heavy backlash, Ms Braverman told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “What’s clear is that what we’ve seen is a practice whereby vulnerable white English girls, sometimes in care, sometimes who are in challenging circumstances, being pursued and raped and drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men who’ve worked in child abuse rings or networks.

“It’s now down to the authorities to track these perpetrators down without fear or favour relentlessly and bring them to justice.”

She also claimed Labour-run areas failed to stop child grooming gangs over fears they would be called “racist”.

In a series of joint letters to the prime minister, Muslim leaders from across the country have urged the prime minister to “separate himself” from Ms Braverman’s comments, which they called on her to withdraw.

Dr Shahid Latif, chair of the British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association who signed one of the letters, told Sky News: “What we would like immediately, we would like a withdrawal of this statement.

“There is no other way about this, and the PM needs to come out and separate himself from these comments, he must realise these comments cause nothing but division.

“Muslims in this country are just coming out from being synonymised with terrorism. This is actually going back to square one and starting all over again, so when people think about child sexual exploitation, the first think they link to that is British Pakistanis.”

The Muslim Women’s network, which has worked with Asian victims of Child sexual exploitation, said Ms Braverman’s “approach…of demonising an entire community and lending credibility to far-right narratives undermines the need to ensure all victims of CSE are protected and all perpetrators are bought to justice”, while community organisations across England, Wales and Scotland labelled it “an act of collective punishment for the reprehensible acts of a few”.

Medical professionals with frontline experience of working with victims also raised alarm bells about the Home Secretary’s approach, saying “it enables these heinous crimes to continue by focusing on political exhibitionism instead of implementing impactful action that is evidence-based”.

A Home Office-commissioned study in 2020 found that group-based child sexual exploitation offenders are most commonly white.

Ms Braverman’s comments came as the government unveiled a raft of measures aimed at tackling child sexual abuse.

It said it legislation to make being the leader of, or involved in, a grooming gang a statutory aggravating factor during sentencing, which would allow judges to hand down tougher punishments.

Meanwhile, people working with children in England will have a new legal duty to report knowledge or suspicions of child sex abuse.

Ms Braverman has been defended by Mr Sunak, who said inquiries into grooming gang incidents in Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford showed that victims were ignored often because people did not want to be “culturally insensitive” or because of political correctness.

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New sexual offences taskforce announced Ahead of launching a taskforce of specialist officers, Mr Sunak said: “For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women.

Read more:

‘Political correctness’ will not stop crackdown on ‘vile’ grooming gangs, says Sunak

Reporting signs of child sex abuse to be mandatory for people working with youngsters, says home secretary

A Home Office spokesperson told Sky News: “The home secretary has been clear that all despicable child abusers must be brought to justice. And she will not shy away from telling hard truths, particularly when it comes to the grooming of young women and girls in Britain’s towns who have been failed by authorities over decades.

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Better data on the make-up of grooming gangs, including ethnicity, will form part of the support for police forces. “As the home secretary has said, the vast majority of British-Pakistanis are law-abiding, upstanding citizens but independent reports were unequivocal that in towns like Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford cultural sensitivities have meant thousands of young girls were abused under the noses of councils and police.

“That’s why we have announced a raft of measures, including a new police taskforce and mandatory reporting, to ensure this horrific scandal can never happen again, and bring members of grooming gangs to justice for the victims.”