In a time of resurgent racism, further stigmatisation of ethnic minorities is not just reckless, writes Kara Bryan
Sarah Champion has recently resigned as Shadow Equalities Minister following a backlash over her offensive commentary in an article she wrote for The Sun declaring, "Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls."
The Rotherham MP went on to say, "for too long we have ignored the race of these abusers… these people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage."
Champion was referring to the horrific Newcastle grooming gang case in which 17 men and a woman were convicted of almost a hundred sexual abuse offences. The perpetrators were predominantly British born, from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Indian, Iranian and Turkish communities.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, himself a British Pakistani man, sadly passed up the opportunity to speak in defence of his community and instead used Champion’s resignation as an excuse to attack Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of sacking his shadow equalities minister and stifling debate, tweeting, "We need to have an honest open debate on child sexual exploitation including racial motivation."
Corbyn has denied sacking Sarah Champion but said tendering her resignation was the right thing to do and made it clear that blaming an entire ethnic community over the misdeeds of a few was wrong.
When the story of the Westminster paedophile ring broke some years ago the headlines did not scream 'White men are raping children!' Yet the media’s main focus on the case has been the perpetrators’ ethnicity.
Away from the inciteful media rhetoric, the reality is strikingly different. Of those convicted on the Sex Offences Register, just over 10% are ethic minorities but Champion’s provocative article gives the false impression that sexual exploitation is racially motivated.
If Champion had bothered to do even the slightest bit of research before writing an inaccurate and inflammatory article for a notoriously racist tabloid, demonising Pakistani men and stigmatising an entire ethnic community, she might have discovered that 90% of those convicted on the Sex Offences Register are in fact white men not Pakistani.
The British Pakistanis convicted of these heinous crimes do not typify Pakistani men any more than the 90% convicted on the Sex Offences Register typify white men, because sexually exploitation is simply not racially motivated.
There are sex offenders in every culture and in every country. Losing sight of that muddies the waters of an extremely sensitive issue and only serves to drown out the voices of those who suffer at the hands of monsters.
The idea that Champion’s resignation is the result of ‘political correctness gone mad’ is laughable. Champion is no more a victim of political correctness than Katie Hopkins. This kind of sweeping racial prejudice is exactly the sort of incendiary rubbish we have come to expect from Hopkins but certainly not from a member of the shadow cabinet and especially not from the shadow ‘Equalities’ minister.
At the very least Sarah Champion has demonstrated her lack of judgement renders her unfit for public office. At worst, she is guilty of deliberately inciting racial hatred. In a time of resurgent racism, particularly in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, further stigmatisation of ethnic minorities is not only reckless. It is downright dangerous.
Kara Bryan is a writer and activist and regular contributor to the Counterfire website. She is currently studying broadcast journalism at the University of the West of England and is a member of Counterfire and Stop the War
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