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Why the media focus on race?

By Sunny Hundal
May 8th 2012


A few years ago I was involved in a minor media bun-fight when I opposed attempts by Asian media and activists to prevent a film from being shown. A Channel 4 documentary titled ‘Edge of the City‘ was looked at child grooming and molesting of young girls by men of Asian origin in the town of Bradford.

It was pulled the first time because the BNP exploited it for upcoming local elections. The second time some Asian activists and Eastern Eye newspaper were still opposed on grounds it would inflame racial tensions.

It might have done, but it still needed to be shown, I argued at the time. You can’t sweep these things under the carpet just because people of different races are involved.

In fact a story I wrote at the time even prompted the BNP to organise a march on this issue, but I was unrepentant. It was a heinous crime  and shouldn’t be hidden away. But the national media is equally irresponsible.

The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and at times even The Times have placed a lot of emphasis on the races of the people involved without offering wider context. The GMP Assistant Chief Constable said today:

It is not a racial issue. This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children. It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men.

However, in large parts of the country we are seeing on-street grooming, child sexual exploitation happening in each of our towns and it isn’t about a race issue. The street grooming issue is about vulnerability and who has access to that vulnerability.

This is exactly right. These heinous men found it easier to prey on young white girls, but don’t think for a second that they would not do the same to Asian girls. Tales of rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking are rife across the Indian sub-continent.

The idea that they avoided Asian girls because somehow they have more respect for them is utter rubbish; they have no respect for any women of any race.

Ethnic minorities are over-represented in prison for sexual offences, but only by a few per cent (hat-tip Binita Mehta), not that much.

In certain areas they can form a bigger percentage (especially if they are a bigger part of the local population) – but I’d challenge anyone to offer evidence that Asians are more predisposed to sexual violence than other races.

The worst thing about the coverage from the likes of the Daily Mail is that it makes it more likely that such cases will be suppressed in the future because people will worry it will once again inflame racial tensions.

This is a case of rape culture and sexual exploitation and the degradation of women. Instead the right-wing tabloids are once again using it to bang that familiar drum: ‘coming here, taking our women‘, which only feeds into BNP and EDL narratives.

Addendum I should clarify a point. I have no doubt some of these men were racist and bigoted towards other races, religions and cultures. That’s not unusual in society, even amongst Asians.

But beware of thinking that is their motivation behind their actions. These people would just as likely exploit Asian girls (of all religions) if given the opportunity – there isn’t a shortage of such exploitation in Pakistan. This is an excuse they may used to justify (for e.g. ‘these girls are easy, maybe they want it’) their heinous behaviour. It doesn’t mean that motivated them though.

Originally published in Liberal Conspiracy

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