Two weeks ago, the British press broke the news contained in Professor Alexis Jay’s “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham.” Between 1997 and 2013, Jay estimated, 1,400 young girls in that Yorkshire town were exploited: gang-raped, trafficked to other cities, threatened, beaten, and forced to bring other girls into the network. The police did not respond to emergency calls from the girls and their families; fathers reported being threatened and even arrested for complaining. The victims and the authorities knew that “by far the majority of perpetrators” were “Asian,” meaning Pakistani/Kashmiri Muslims, who constitute about 3.7 percent of Rotherham’s population of 260,000. Members of this group dominate the town’s taxi industry, and therefore had easy access to victims. The perpetrators were not merely pimps: They also dealt drugs and sold guns. Yet during the 17-year period she studied, Jay found, “councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue.”
Jay’s report proved that virtually everyone in any position of authority from the late ’90s until today must have known the scale of the sexual exploitation. Internal documents show that they heard reports on the situation several times, most notably in 2005. Town councillors have been accused of having business interests in the taxi companies—one of the companies that was accused of rounding up and grooming girls also had a contract with the city to ferry children between social services locations.
The story of such grooming rings in the north of England had been broached by many newspaper reports over the past decade, particularly by Andrew Norfolk of the Times. But the impact of the Jay report overwhelmed the usual attempts to say it was being exaggerated out of racism and Islamophobia. “This scale of criminality and victimhood is vast for a country that has traditionally regarded itself as law-abiding,” the British journalist John O’Sullivan wrote last week. And the size and scope of the tragedy has made it safe not only for columnists but for cabinet members to say that “institutionalized political correctness” is responsible for the tragic fate of the girls of Rotherham. From 1997 to 2013 it was imprudent to say anything like this, or even to mention the ethnicity and religion of the perpetrators: A Home Office researcher who tried to tell police and superiors what was going on was sent on a diversity training course instead. (The influential 1999 Macpherson Report said any policeman who has not been given formal diversity training must be assumed to be racist.)
The only ones who haven’t had much to say are the feminists—but given their dismissive attitude even to women of Muslim background like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who testify to their mistreatment by Muslim men in the name of Islam, one can’t expect them to show up to support women of English ethnicity or Christian heritage, especially from the working classes. Some feminists try to defuse the situation without actually criticizing the perpetrators, such as Suzanne Moore in the Guardian: “The bigger picture is not, as the right claim, about ethnicity but systematic abuse of girls and boys by powerful men,” expounds the subheading above her piece. “Our untouchables turn out to be little girls raped by powerful men,” she claims. Dan Hodges of the Telegraph replies, “But they weren’t. Our little girls were raped by Kashmiri cab drivers. Yes, powerful men were involved in the Rotherham abuses. But they weren’t the ones doing the raping. They were the ones turning a blind eye to the rape. And why were they turning a blind eye? Because of the ethnicity of the rapists.”
Thanks to the Jay report, however, we can say that the Hodges rejoinder is not entirely true. The Rotherham problem—which we’ll call Childhood Sexual Exploitation, or CSE, because everyone uses that jargon—was the subject of repeated scrutiny throughout the period when 1,400 girls fell victim to it, not only by the local government itself but also by social services, private charities and their consultants, the National Health Service (NHS), and the police. The girls were abandoned only partly because so many made a cowardly choice to let a crime go unreported when they could not think of a “non-racist” way to describe it. They were also abandoned because of the way that these agencies tried to do good. The process of “caring for children” was already bad; the distortions and systematic mendacity encouraged by the ideology of multiculturalism and racial and gender theorizing made it worse.