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Abstract

Revelations of organised abuse by men of Asian heritage in the United Kingdom have become a recurrent feature of international media coverage of sexual abuse in recent years. This paper reflects on the similarities between the highly publicised 'sex grooming' prosecutions in Rochdale in 2012 and the allegations of organised abuse in Rochdale that emerged in 1990, when twenty children were taken into care after describing sadistic abuse by their parents and others. While these two cases differ in important aspects, this paper highlights the prominence of colonial ideologies of civilisation and barbarism in the investigation and media coverage of the two cases and the sublimation of the issue of child welfare. There are important cultural and normative antecedents to sexual violence but these have been misrepresented in debates over organised abuse as racial issues and attributed to ethnic minority communities. In contrast, the colonialist trope promulgating the fictional figure of the rational European has resulted in the denial of the cultural and normative dimensions of organised abuse in ethnic majority communities by attributing sexual violence to aberrant and sexually deviant individuals whose behaviours transgress the boundaries of accepted cultural norms. This paper emphasises how the implicit or explicit focus on race has served to obscure the power dynamics underlying both cases and the continuity of vulnerability that places children at risk of sexual and organised abuse.
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... For instance, a series of socalled 'sex grooming' scandals in the United Kingdom have bought to light the mass sexual exploitation of teenaged girls in a number of locales (Cockbain, 2013). The disinterest of state and police authorities in the safety of teenaged girls in institutional care has been prominent in a number of cases, where victims and advocates have found a range of agencies unresponsive to evidence of the sexual assault and prostitution of girls in care (Salter & Dagistanli, 2015). However the systemic factors that made the mass abuse of these children possible were overshadowed in public and political discourse by the religious and ethnic background of groups of perpetrators, some of whom were of Asian and Muslim heritage. ...
... However the systemic factors that made the mass abuse of these children possible were overshadowed in public and political discourse by the religious and ethnic background of groups of perpetrators, some of whom were of Asian and Muslim heritage. My research with Dagistanli (Salter & Dagistanli, 2015) has emphasized how the debates over 'sex grooming' were framed by issues of migration and multiculturalism, while the protection of vulnerable children was second order issue. The ethnic status of the perpetrators had a significant role in how the allegations against them were interpreted, and linked to pre-existing controversies and racist agitation by far-right groups. ...
... The ethnic status of the perpetrators had a significant role in how the allegations against them were interpreted, and linked to pre-existing controversies and racist agitation by far-right groups. In contrast, similar allegations against white perpetrators have been overlooked or else cast as unbelievable and confabulated (Salter & Dagistanli, 2015). Research that is attuned to the gendered, classed and racial dynamics of sexual abuse and their contextual intersections may generate new insights into how sexual abuse can be prevented before it occurs. ...
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Child sexual abuse (CSA) engages the core themes of critical criminology, namely power and harm. It is therefore surprising that child sexual abuse has drawn relatively little attention from critical criminologists, other than as an illustration of “moral panic”. This is, to my knowledge, the first dedicated chapter on child sexual abuse in a critical criminology handbook or encyclopaedia. After providing an overview of the major characteristics of child sexual abuse, the chapter begins by reflecting on the neglect of child sexual abuse in critical criminology and the dominance of a dismissive “moral panic” account. It goes on to summarise analyses of child sexual abuse advanced by feminist criminologists and scholars, for whom child sexual abuse is situated within, and reflective of, the structural and cultural forces at work in contemporary societies. The chapter then discusses critical and psychosocial perspectives on child sex offending, emphasising the interplay of psychological and social dynamics in abuse and responses to it. The last half of the chapter identifies four key areas of future research and theorising for critical criminologists, namely 1) accounting for the full spectrum of child sexual abuse, 2) attention to power and intersectionality, 3) developing more nuanced analyses to collective responses to child sexual abuse and 4) critiquing and advancing justice responses. The chapter concludes by emphasising the centrality of child sexual abuse within contemporary power relations and structures. It suggests that critical criminology has an important, if not fully realised, role to play in interrogating the contradictions, inequalities and hypocrisies evident in the commission of child sex offences and broader social and legal responses to it.
... The various organised abuse scandals of the 1980s and 1990s were catalysts for the standardisation of sexual abuse investigation protocols, resulting in the successful prosecution of the kinds of complex cases that had stumbled in the 1980s (Salter, 2013). In the United Kingdom, media-driven scepticism surrounding organised abuse allegation has contributed to the suppression of victim complaints over a number of years (Salter & Dagistanli 2015). Subsequent media exposure of the mass and organised abuse of teenaged girls by groups of men in Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere have had a strongly racialized focus on the exploitation of "white" girls by men of "Asian" or "Middle-Eastern" background , with the frequent presentation of race and religion as the determinative factor in organised abuse (Salter & Dagistanli 2015). ...
... In the United Kingdom, media-driven scepticism surrounding organised abuse allegation has contributed to the suppression of victim complaints over a number of years (Salter & Dagistanli 2015). Subsequent media exposure of the mass and organised abuse of teenaged girls by groups of men in Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere have had a strongly racialized focus on the exploitation of "white" girls by men of "Asian" or "Middle-Eastern" background , with the frequent presentation of race and religion as the determinative factor in organised abuse (Salter & Dagistanli 2015). There has been comparatively limited media interest in comparable organised abuse cases involving "white" perpetrators, which Salter and Dagistanli (2015) argue highlights an implicit racial politics in which sexual sadism is projected onto "Othered" ethnic groups or developing countries. ...
... Subsequent media exposure of the mass and organised abuse of teenaged girls by groups of men in Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere have had a strongly racialized focus on the exploitation of "white" girls by men of "Asian" or "Middle-Eastern" background , with the frequent presentation of race and religion as the determinative factor in organised abuse (Salter & Dagistanli 2015). There has been comparatively limited media interest in comparable organised abuse cases involving "white" perpetrators, which Salter and Dagistanli (2015) argue highlights an implicit racial politics in which sexual sadism is projected onto "Othered" ethnic groups or developing countries. Nonetheless, there is an increasing policy and legal shift towards the recognition and criminalisation of organised abuse in the UK, including the launching of a national Action Plan on Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (Department of Education, 2011). ...
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Drawing on Kitzinger’s (2000) notion of media templates, the essay demonstrates how patterns of media reporting on organised abuse in the US came to inform reporting in the UK and Australia. The subsequent “echo chamber” reinforced a homogenised stereotype of organised abuse allegations that was highly conducive to the claims that the problem of sexual abuse had been exaggerated for ideological reasons. Recent trends in media coverage of sexual abuse have challenged such claims, and the essay closes by considering the uncertain and contradictory state of contemporary media coverage of organised abuse allegations.
... Inductive approaches Attempts to conceptualise grooming have, to the large part, adopted a bottom-up descriptive approach, with efforts having been made to identify and to categorise grooming tactics in a variety of contexts (Black et al, 2015;Kloess, Hamilton-Giachritsis & Beech, 2019;Knoll, 2010;McAlinden, 2006;Pranato, Gunawan & Soewito, 2015;Rigg & Phippen, 2016;Salter & Dagistanli, 2015;Williams, Elliott & Beech, 2013;Wolf & Pruitt, 2019) and/or to thematically categorise such tactics in terms of different phases or stages in the grooming process. (Colton, Roberts & Vanstone, 2012;Gallagher, 2000;McAlinden, 2006;O'Connell, 2003;Olson, Daggs, Ellevold & Rogers, 2007;Van Dam, 2001;Winters & Jeglic, 2017). ...
... Exploiting restrictive cultural practices and CSA myths and stereotypes in order to reframe CSA as a nonabusive activity and/or to mitigate social perceptions of offender culpability (Fontes & Plummer, 2010;Salter & Dagistanli, 2015). In its initial phase, group localised grooming involves one member of a group of adults employing grooming tactics in order to establish an intimate relationship with a young adolescent, with this initial phase often being the start of a broader abusive process (that may, or may not, involve grooming tactics) designed to lead to wider forms of exploitation involving multiple perpetrators, such as sex trafficking or participation in sex rings (cf., Ost & Mooney, 2013). ...
... The debate on whether men of Asian, Muslim or Pakistani heritage are predisposed to commit this crime ( Gill and Harrison, 2015;Gilligan, 2011;Harker, 2012;Norfolk et al, 2012;Shafiq, 2011;Siddique, 2012) fuelled the simmering tension linking anti-Muslim racism and counter-terrorism (Tufail, 2015). Some suggested that the liberal elite are unable to impartially address the needs of female victims and the racism inherent in labelling Muslim men as sex offenders (Grewal, 2012;Klonowski, 2013;Jay, 2014;Casey, 2015;Salter and Dagistanli, 2015;Bedford 2015). ...
... GLCSE requires a motive for perpetrators to offend, accessible victims, and opportunity (Salter and Dagistanli, 2015). Motivating drivers, such as misogyny, power and control, rooted in ideas around childhood, adolescence, sexual behaviour and age of consent, are thought to vary according to place of residence and cultural disposition (Vandiver, et al, 2017). ...
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Since 2011, the prosecution of Asian men for Group Localised Child Sexual Exploitation (GLCSE) in the UK has led to two opposing positions: (1) Asian men have been unfairly demonized, and (2) Asian men have a disproportionate propensity for GLCSE. We analysed the evidence in the public domain in different two ways. First, we collected newspaper reports of GLCSE cases, and completed a comprehensive review of the literature, government documents and official case reviews. Our data consists of 498 defendants in 73 prosecutions between 1997 and 2017. Using a technique that is widely accepted in medical research, we determined the heritage of these defendants. Second, using census data for 404 local authorities, we analysed the relationship between GLCSE prosecutions, and the religion and heritage of each local population. We conclude that Muslims, particularly Pakistanis, dominate GLCSE prosecutions: and consider the reasons for this, and some possible policy responses.
... There is not room here to discuss these UK cases; suffice to note, there is ample evidence that such egregious crimes are not unique to Muslim communities in Britain, and that there is nothing inherently 'Muslim' about them. The Islamophobia of the public discussion of these cases has been well analysed by Tufail (2015Tufail ( , 2018, Salter and Dagistanli (2015) and Patel (2018). It is demonstrable that the racialised reporting of both the Australian and the British cases motivated repeated instances of Islamophobic hate crime, including murder, in both IJCJ&SD 10 Online version via www.crimejusticejournal.com hemispheres. ...
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This paper examines the global provenance of Australian Islamophobia in the light of the Christchurch massacre perpetrated by a white-supremacist Australian. Anti-Muslim racism in Australia came with British imperialism in the nineteenth century. Contemporary Islamophobia in Australia operates as part of a successor empire, the United States-led ‘Empire of Capital’. Anti-Muslim stories, rumours, campaigns and prejudices are launched from Australia into global circulation. For example, the spate of group sexual assaults in Sydney over 2000–2001 were internationally reported as ‘ethnic gang rapes’. The handful of Australian recruits to, and supporters of, IS, is recounted in the dominant narrative as part of a story propagated in both the United Kingdom and Australia about Islamist terrorism, along with policy responses ostensibly aimed at countering violent extremism and targeting Muslims for surveillance and intervening to effect approved forms of ‘integration’.
... 30 His comments not only farcically implied that raping children is the natural alternative to premarital sex 31 but furthered myths that 'repressed sexuality' drives abuse and perpetrated orientalist stereotypes about Muslim men's 'rapacious sexual appetites'. 32 other Labour politicians followed suit in emphasising the role of ethnicity and/or culture. 33 Such spurious 'cultural' explanations have been criticised both within and beyond the context of CSE as a backdoor for 'new racism' in a supposedly 'post-racial' society. ...
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‘Muslim grooming gangs’ have become a defining feature of media, political and public debate around child sexual exploitation in the UK. The dominant narrative that has emerged to explain a series of horrific cases is misleading, sensationalist and has in itself promoted a number of harms. This article examines how racist framings of ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ exist not only in extremist, far-right fringes but in mainstream, liberal discourses too. The involvement of supposedly feminist and liberal actors and the promotion of pseudoscientific ‘research’ have lent a veneer of legitimacy to essentialist, Orientalist stereotypes of Muslim men, the demonisation of whole communities and demands for collective responsibility. These developments are situated in the broader socio-political context, including the far Right’s weaponisation of women’s rights, the ‘Islamophobia industry’ and a long history of racialising crime. We propose alternative ways of understanding and responding to child sexual exploitation/abuse. We contend that genuinely anti-racist feminist approaches can help in centring victims/survivors and their needs and in tackling serious sexual violence without demonising entire communities.
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This article focuses on the BBC1 three-part drama Three Girls, broadcast in July 2017, which dramatised the Rochdale child sex-grooming gang scandal of 2011 and won five BAFTAs in 2018. While many of the dominant press narratives focused on the ethnicity of the perpetrators, few accounts of the scandal spoke to the need for a sustained public discussion of the class location of the victims. This article considers how the process of recognising the social problem of sex-grooming is set up for the audience through a particular mode of address. In many ways the drama rendered visible the structural conditions that provided the context for this abuse by drawing on the expanded repertoires of television social realism: the representation of the town as abuser; the championing of heroic working-class women; and the power of working-class vernacular. However, ultimately, the narrative marginalises the type of girl most likely to be the victim of this form of sexual abuse. By focusing on the recognisable journey of the girl ‘who can be saved’ this renders the impoverished girl as already constitutive of the social problem. The analysis draws attention to the difficulties of recognising alternative classed subjectivities on television because of the way that boundary-markers are placed between the working class and the poor and suggests that the consequence of these representations is to reify ideas about the victims of poverty and exploitation.
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Whilst #MeToo and Me Too have centred victim/survivors, what the contemporary moment means for men is a recurring concern. This chapter investigates the position of men in the #MeToo era, focusing first on men as victim/survivors of sexual abuse, including of female perpetrators, before moving on to consider how alleged perpetrators are situated in relation to narratives of victimisation (with a focus on #HimToo and the Kavanaugh hearings) and of monstrosity. Whilst feminist critics have been interested in the connections between “aberrant” and “normal” male behaviour, this chapter demonstrates the enduring appeal of distinction and individualism in understanding male violence. The conclusion connects this with the wider arguments of the book, asserting the importance of understanding #MeToo historically and contextually.
Book
Cambridge Core - Criminal Law - Children as ‘Risk' - by Anne-Marie McAlinden