Jack Straw wields the wooden spoon again

Wooden spoon, sourced from Wikimedia CommonsSo, the vicious old creep Jack Straw has yet again stirred up trouble for Muslims in the UK, this time with comments on the recent “Asian grooming scandal” involving groups of men of Pakistani background grooming young white girls for sex with thirty-something Asian men in northern England. His comments are reported (with a few bits dotted out) in this BBC report but the gist of it is:

We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way.

These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically.

So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care… who they think are easy meat.

As mentioned in a previous entry, the situation is a little more complicated than just Pakistani men grooming white girls anyway (as the authors of the original report — PDF here — have said publically), but the idea that a whole culture is contributing to the activities of these gangs seems somewhat dubious. It’s not whole communities, it’s particular gangs of men who are involved in other crime besides this kind of grooming, and when young men are “buzzing with testosterone”, they do not form organised gangs of this kind of structure. A young woman who had been targeted in this way spoke on a BBC panel discussion programme this morning, and said that she was initially befriended by younger teenage boys, and got passed up via a group of older teenagers to the men in their late 20s and early 30s who carried out the sexual assaults. So, the guys who are “buzzing” don’t get the sex. They act as apprentices and dogsbodies, much as younger recruits do in gangs the world over.

It may be true that there are men in these communities who are seeking sexual encounters with young white girls because they cannot conduct relationships with those of their own background, because the girls are unavailable and they themselves are promised in marriage to someone from the village back home (although this is less true now than it used to be, and people are more willing to insist on finding a spouse themselves, particularly if they go to college). Even if one may object to the attitude that the young white girls are “easy” compared to Pakistani ones, it is still not the same as forming gangs to groom and rape girls.

Also mentioned on the panel discussion was that Jack Straw might have been trying to influence a by-election in Oldham where there are a lot of Bangladeshis. What was left out was the resonance that portraying Pakistani men as sexual predators might have for Bangladeshi voters (in short, during the Bangladesh war of independence, a huge number of women in what was to become Bangladesh were raped by Pakistani soldiers). Straw’s last pronouncement on issues related to Muslims were disastrous, leading to a huge press campaign against Muslim women who wear the niqaab. Neither his voting record with regard to Bush and Blair’s wars, nor that incident, cost him his seat. Assuming he intends to contest the seat again, I wonder if this bit of race-baiting will cost him his Gujarati Muslim votes in Blackburn. (More: Osama Saeed.)

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

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