A British Pakistani diaspora group has written an open letter to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging him to clarify the remarks of his Home Secretary Suella Braverman which, they say, stigmatised their community in relation to grooming gangs behind child sexual exploitation.
The British Pakistani Foundation (BPF), which claims to represent 18,000 Pakistani diaspora members, called on Sunak to ask his Cabinet minister to withdraw her irresponsible words as it would be perceived as normalising bigotry against the community.
Similar letters have also been issued by other Pakistani diaspora groups, all calling for the Indian-origin Cabinet ministers comments to be withdrawn.
In a series of television interviews earlier this month ahead of the launch of a new Grooming Gangs Taskforce, Braverman said that the perpetrators of such crimes are “groups of men, almost all British Pakistani”.
We are writing to you to share our deep concern and disappointment at the Home Secretarys recent comments and for you not speaking out against them, reads the open letter issued on Tuesday.
These comments singled out only the involvement of British Pakistani males in so-called grooming gangs and holding cultural values totally at odds with British values, it said.
“Words have consequences by stigmatising an entire community, and making it the face of child sexual exploitation, the Home Secretarys remarks will detract attention from perpetrators who dont meet her stereotypes, harming the very victims the Home Secretary ostensibly set out to protect but also further perpetrating violence against minorities, it reads.
The letter references a report commissioned by the UK Home Office in 2020, entitled The characteristics of group-based child sexual exploitation in the community, which had concluded that despite some high-profile cases, links between ethnicity and this form of offending cannot be proven.
It also references the most recent conviction of 21 men and women of white British ethnicity, who were last week found guilty of sexually abusing young children in Walsall in the West Midlands region of England over a decade.
The divisive and dangerous way in which the Home Secretary is seeking to portray all British Pakistani males and insinuating that the community is complicit in their actions is reprehensible, the BPF open letter notes.
We, therefore, ask you to immediately clarify the Home Secretarys claims and ask her to withdraw her remarks. We also ask for your prompt engagement with the British Pakistani community, and others, on this issue to ensure that the Home Secretarys irresponsible words, and a government led by you, are not seen as encouraging and normalising bigotry targeted at British Pakistanis, it concludes.
Earlier this month, Sunak had condemned the political correctness which prevented action against vile criminals as he unveiled his new taskforce to go after grooming gangs.
The safety of women and girls is paramount. For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women. We will stop at nothing to stamp out these dangerous gangs, he said at the time.
Led by the police and supported by the UKs National Crime Agency (NCA), Downing Street says that data analysts will work alongside the new Grooming Gangs Taskforce using cutting edge data and intelligence to identify the types of criminals who carry out these offences, including police recorded ethnicity data.
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