The case of 26-year-old Yadvinder Singh of Stoke-on-Trent, UK, who was recently jailed for five years and five months after being found guilty of rape and sexual activity with a child is truly shocking.
But, if any good can come out of this terrible crime, it is the hope that the publicity surrounding the case will raise the sense of urgency of the seriousness of this issue within the Sikh community and the need to act now.
Over the past few years, there has been much discussion about the so-called ‘Pakistani sexual grooming gangs’. Yes, there is a serious problem with such networks of abusers, but we must not let the focus on this type of child abuse create blind spots on what constitutes the bulk of child abuse which takes place within families and communities.
Child sexual abuse and grooming is NOT confined to any particular community; it happens across the board. Abusers are not as the stereotype portrays, ‘dirty old men’ but can be males and females of varying ages, educational background, religious affiliation, etc.
Child sexual abuse is largely about an abuse of power and trust and not, as some suggest, primarily driven by lust.
Though abusers from one community may abuse children from another, most child sexual abuse takes place within kinship networks (extended families) and communities and the abuser is often known by the abused.
And within South Asian communities, in the name of the notion of ‘family honour’ or ‘izat’, the victim of abuse is often chastised and stigmatised, making it difficult for them to initially disclose and then follow through with a criminal case. There can be no family or community honour where abuse is taking place and the sooner we erase the bogus concept of izat the better.
However, we cannot simply blame the communities and because of racism within the child protection system, often cases are dealt with insensitively and this can end up with the victim losing confidence in those who are supposed to protect them.
Child sexual abuse is often seen as a ‘silent’ crime. That is that it is done behind doors out of the public gaze. It is time for us to remove the veil of privacy and face up to what is, after all, a serious violation of human rights as well as all moral principles.
I cannot see any issue facing the community and society at large that has greater importance than the protection of children.
This article is in response to a recent article on the court case. Read full story, ‘I can’t move on with my life…’ – Rape victim speaks out as this Stoke-on-Trent sex beast is jailed (Stoke On Trent, 28 Oct 2019), here.
[Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is a Visiting Fellow in Race and Education at University of Arts London and a Visiting Professor of Social Work at University of Chester as well as a presenter at UK-based Akaal channel]
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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