posted by: Nick Lowles, HOPE not hate | on: Friday, 10 May 2013, 10:25
There are few more awful crimes than the sexual abuse of children. There are certainly fewer crimes that incite so much anger and hatred within our communities. Sexual assaults on young girls have been in the news recently with the unfolding Jimmy Savile scandal, the arrests of several high-profile TV stars and the reports into abuse at a North Wales children’s home and the Manchester music school.
Yesterday, the jury at the Old Bailey retired to consider a verdict in the trial of nine men from Oxford accused of grooming and sexually exploiting young girls over an eight-year period. This is just the latest in a series of high profile cases involving British Muslim men and these have been jumped on and exploited by the far right. In fact, there is little else they are campaigning on at the moment. But if we are to prevent the likes of the British National Party, English Defence League and National Front benefiting from these cases then we need to prove to the public that we are concerned about these stories of grooming by both gangs and individuals, and, more importantly, are going to do something about it.
And that’s why HOPE not hate is delighted to be involved in the setting up of the Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). We are seeking to develop a cross-community initiative that can deal head on with the issue of on-street grooming by gangs.
Our aims are simple. We want to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation through education and campaigning across all communities. We want to encourage reporting and promote services to help vulnerable young people. We want to produce training kits and background factsheets on the issue for faith and community leaders, so they can speak out with knowledge and confidence. We want to produce myth-busting material to counter extremist groups who might attempt to exploit the issue in order to divide communities and stir up hatred. And, we want to create a space for dialogue and open discussion between and within communities, to help break down misconceptions, address real issues of concerns and develop more effective cross-community responses.
Fundamentally, we want to help create a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to child sexual exploitation and develop young leaders to take the campaign into their communities.
Paedophilia and sex abuse reaches across all communities and involves men from all ethnic backgrounds and it is vital we take race out of the equation. However, we must also be willing to confront the issue wherever we find it. Staying silent and ignoring the problem is simply not an option.
There are many great initiatives going on already. Police, local authorities and child protection agencies are working hard, but there is also more that can be done. We want to develop a community angle to this work as we believe that community and faith organisations are often best placed to reach out to local people and prevent communities being divided.
CAASE is a long overdue initiative and one that will make a real difference.
Posted: 10 May 2013 | There are 0 comments
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