LONDON: The British prime minister and home secretary have been warned against focusing on British-Pakistani men in policymaking to tackle child sexual abuse, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
A joint letter sent to Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman, signed by more than 60 researchers and anti-child cruelty organizations, including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said “inaccurate or divisive claims” undermined their efforts and actually made children less safe.
The letter urged the UK government to avoid pushing misinformed, racist and divisive rhetoric when discussing the issue.
Braverman last month said “almost all” members of so-called child-grooming gangs in the UK were “British-Pakistani males” who hold “cultural values totally at odds with British values,” despite Home Office statistics from 2020 showing white males were responsible for the majority of child sexual abuse crimes.
The letter was organized by Helen Beckett and Camille Warrington, from the Safer Young Lives Research Centre at Bedfordshire University, and Ella Cockbain, associate professor of crime science at University College London, The Guardian reported.
The signatories asked the government to take an “evidence-based” approach to tackling the issue, rather than pandering to “short-term media cycles,” and said singling out one group drew attention away from other sources of harm to children.
They said: “To this end, we urgently ask all politicians to refrain from making partial, inaccurate or divisive claims about child sexual abuse. Doing so undermines attempts to ensure policymaking is evidence-based, fair and inclusive.
“Many recent political announcements and accompanying media discussions have clearly fallen short in this regard, perpetuating misinformation, racism and division.”
They added that a narrative which focused on young, white, female victims of British-Pakistani men detracted from much-needed support for other victims including young boys and men, and those from other minority communities as well as young disabled people.
A statement from No. 10 Downing Street refused to elaborate on a statement made in April after Braverman’s comments, which said “cultural sensitivity and political correctness” had failed victims, while the Home Office refused to comment.